Komatsu America Corp.'s Chattanooga Manufacturing Operation quietly entered its 30th year of operation in Chattanooga this year, marking three decades since the global construction and mining giant started assembling machines on Signal Mountain Road.
Over the years, Chattanooga's facility has put together everything from heel loaders and rigid dump trucks to crawler dozers.
These days, the Signal Mountain road facility deals almost exclusively with mid-size excavators and forestry equipment. A global company based in Tokyo, Komatsu continually moves around production of its machines to best fit international needs and demands.
Chattanooga's Komatsu division assembles mid-size track excavators and forestry machines for North and South America. As of July, that meant the plant was turning out five to six excavators a day and two to three forestry machines a week.
At its peak, the plant a couple of years ago was assembling 15 excavators a day.
The Chattanooga operation receives large pieces of shaped, but otherwise raw, steel materials from regional vendors and suppliers. Then with its staff of around 400 — and with the aid of a team of large, smart robots — it puts all the pieces together, slaps on a generous coat of Komatsu Yellow (a distinct, unique color) and sends out ready-to-operate equipment.
From Chattanooga, some pieces of machinery are then sent out to dealerships, while some are custom-fitted for a specific buyer. Komatsu also maintains ownership of its machines while they sit on dealer lots, keeping costs down for their vendors.
And Komatsu's Signal Mountain road office also holds an important global distinction: A team of engineers working in the offices in Chattanooga designed the mid-size Komatsu dozer that's sold and used all over the world.
In 2012, the Chattanooga operation's facility achieved 1 million work hours without lost time and received Komatsu's Commissioner Award.
In 2017, Komatsu will turn 100.