Everything will be done by WWL, from pickup at the factory to moving the machines on to the ship.

Japan-based Komatsu is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of heavy equipment. Like most major international firms, it has production facilities around the world, including Komatsu do Brasil Ltda in Suzano. “We are the worldwide producer of two mid-size bulldozers, the D51 and D61,” says Andrea Z. Park, Manager, Sales/Import-Export for Komatsu do Brasil. “We do produce other equipment, but those bulldozers are only produced in Brazil, and we need to ship them around the world.”

The company has already called on WWL to do that for more than 10 years, Park says, adding that Komatsu headquarters in Tokyo has entered into a global agreement with WWL for logistics.

However, the current agreement is a new step, says Fabio Mello of WWL in Sao Paulo.

“Basically, we have several new business activities with Komatsu; the first is the ocean transportation from Brazil to Japan. They have been loading their machines on flat rack containers (an open-sided container unit) which they have now decided to convert to RoRo. Then we signed the first complete supply chain management contract in South America with them.”

The scope of that agreement, he says, covers everything from pickup of the machines at the Komatsu factory in Brazil to delivery at ports in the US, Latin America and Japan. “This includes the inland services to bring the bulldozers from the factory to the port of loading, providing some technical services and pre-delivery inspection (PDI), then Terminal Services, which includes storage, and ocean transport to the overseas destinations.”

For Park, the agreement provides several important benefits. “I was looking for some cost reductions, as well as improvement to our logistics,” she says. “The agreement will also cut time off the domestic leg of the supply chain (the ocean shipping phase has not changed).  We’re located about 60 kilometres from the port of Santos; previously, a trucking company would pick up the machines and take them to a private terminal in Santos where they would sit for a few days waiting for customs clearance. Then the trucking company would again carry the bulldozers to the shipping terminal. Only then would the machines be put onboard the vessel.

“The agreement improves things a lot, because everything will be done by WWL, from pickup at the factory to moving the machines on to the ship,” she continues. “I don’t have to handle the trucking company, the two terminals and then the ocean part. That means a savings of seven or eight days for us, as well as providing one contact for us. Everything will be invoiced by WWL, so everyone can see very clearly what our expenses are.”

And, she adds, as cost reduction was a goal, she is pleased to see that there will be a significant cut in direct costs, as well as a major reduction in work she must handle.

But it is not simply a matter of handing equipment over to WWL; the agreement also highlights a very close working relationship between the two companies. “We will have Komatsu employees working directly with us in our office in Santos, collaborating with our staff and supporting the whole operation,” says Flavio Batista, Vice President, Latin America Sales & Corporate Accounts. Park adds that WWL and affiliated staff have also been studying at Komatsu’s Brazilian facilities.
“WWL brought the trucking and terminal people who will be involved to our factory for training,” she says. “Our inspection and dispatching people also worked very closely with them, because our D61 PX is a larger bulldozer that, because of the road regulations in Brazil, cannot be shipped with the blade on. It will have to be assembled at the terminal, something that will require a lot of quality control. That was a major concern for us, but seeing how well it is being managed by WWL and our people, I’m sure it will turn out well.”

Founded in 1975, Komatsu do Brasil was Komatsu’s first plant outside Japan, and an early overseas operation for Japanese manufacturers. “The main focus at first was to be a plant that assembled and supplied mid-size bulldozers globally,” Park says. “We didn’t do much actual production here before about 2000. Up until the downturn in 2008, we were about 60 percent export, and 40 percent domestic. With the crisis, things sort of turned around, but we can’t forget exports.”

WWL has also grown along with the economies of South America, particularly with the ongoing growth of manufacturing in areas including automobiles and heavy equipment. With its bases in a number of major ports along the east coast of the continent, and on into Central and North America, WWL is in a good position to serve companies like Komatsu as they continue to develop their international business in this vital area.

A total supply chain solution  for Komatsu
With WWL’s supply chain solution, Komatsu significantly cuts costs, saves 7 to 8 days, and simplifies its billing and logistics. WWL picks up the machines at the Komatsu factory, then transports them 60 kilometres to Santos port, where it provides technical and terminal services, pre-delivery inspection and storage before shipping the equipment overseas. The blade of Komatsu’s larger D61 PX bulldozer must be assembled at the port, requiring a high level of quality control.