The term “AE” refers to the “holistic process” of application engineering. There is a recognition that the supplier/customer interface isn’t limited to the purchase and sale of machinery, and the supplier may have to go beyond the normal course of duty to meet the customer’s needs.
Essentially AE is linked to customers and their job sites or tasks, or the planning of a future endeavour or change in direction due to market demand or company/sole trader realignment.
While AE may be universal, it may not be required on all occasions at one end of the scale; however, at other times there may be frequent points of entry depending on the complexity of a task, project or site.
So what is the AE process? It involves getting “on the ground” or site, to listen, learn and gather data and pictures to visually understand the task or requirement.
It is likely to be linked to the customer’s vision and future planning as directed within the initial information gathering stage.
Visualisation is integral to the process, as the task may involve a lone segment or multiple segments of the business; information and data gathering is crucial so an informed analysis can be made. This leads to a parallel path with the projected end state.
The “on ground” activity may comprise a number of aspects, including: observation; simple measurement of site equipment and any respective limiting structures; dedicated time and motion studies via observation or video, then breaking down the cycle into segments as required; calculation of task efficiency; compound measurement for a fleet holistic routine, eg load and haul; and haul route alignment or profile, to determine the effective production change.
Many facets present themselves on varying sites. Each site has its own unique or exceptional characteristics.
Once a site visit is conducted and data and information is compiled, the question is then put: “Is this data valid?”
In simple terms, is the information relevant or typical of the day to day operation? The information and subsequent visualisation must present an accurate record of operation.
If not, then similar to a continuous improvement “plan-do-check-act” cycle, the information needs to be reviewed.
On agreement that the collected and collated information has practical representation, the AE process can continue through to an informed recommendation or production simulations.
When conducting production target simulations, there are related products within the adjoining industries. Komatsu Australia has its own well established and proven software program called Optimum Fleet Recommendation – or OFR.
As each site has its own intricacies, OFR may not be needed for full prediction; it might be utilised to check or refine existing units over the site or task.
In previous years, the following question was asked: “Is there a specific profile for the customer, site or task that needs to have an AE visit?”
In essence, the answer is no. There is no limitation to who, what and when in regards to liaison with an AE.
Customers that have successfully utilised the Komatsu AE service include civil construction, government, quarry and extractive groups, and small to very large mining houses.
Do you need an established site where plant and vehicles are busily working away? Not at all. You might need a projection or simulation; once the defining parameters are agreed upon, you have calculated output that may be the starting point to establishing your next project and journey.
There have been many highly successful “simulation-only” recommendations on many prominent projects across the country, and within many industry groups.
In addition, in this age of electronic media, some site liaisons have been conducted with customers via office-to-office connections when required to meet key milestone dates.
Komatsu Australia’s AE programs are located in strategically placed locations across Australia to accommodate AE activity as the need arises.
Source: Komatsu Australia.