Brand management partnership pays off for NZ operation

Kaipara Ltd is a diversified family-owned company with interests in quarrying, mining, property, building and infrastructure development. It has also been a significant Komatsu customer since 1980. In fact, Kaipara’s first Komatsu machine – a 1980-vintage D155A-1 dozer that’s still in working condition – takes pride of place outside its Brookby Quarry operation, southeast of Auckland.

Late in 2014 Kaipara received resource consent to potentially more than triple the rate of production at Brookby Quarry, ensuring it will be a major supplier of aggregates for the Auckland region for at least the next 100 years. Brookby’s aggregate resource is in excess of 300 million tonnes.

Under the conditions of the resource consent, output from the quarry can now increase from about 1.3 million tonnes a year to up to 4.6 million tonnes a year. The consent includes a 30 per cent increase in the hours of operation, along with significant increases in both the extraction and processing hourly rates. It also allows for Saturday sales to occur, as well as all-day extraction and processing.

Since giving effect to the consent in January 2015, the quarry has experienced significant growth driven by Auckland’s rapidly expanding city and resulting aggregate demand.

This rapid growth has resulted in significant challenges as the quarry operation quickly gears up to handle the higher extraction and processing rates, and the larger number of truck movements.


{{image2-a:r-w:300}}The brand management relationship established between Kaipara and Komatsu in late 2014 incorporated a number of key elements that would ensure Brookby’s ability to deliver products to its markets throughout the Auckland region. These included:

  • Having Komatsu Australia’s national customer applications manager for construction Craig “Shine” Summerfield spend extended time at the quarry, working closely with quarry management, operators and other site personnel, and giving recommendations for optimising its equipment fleet to ensure the most efficient configuration.
  • Bringing in Komatsu Australia’s national operator trainer supervisor for construction Aaron Marsh to work with Brookby’s operators, to ensure their skills and attributes were enhanced, resulting in the equipment operating to its optimum capability.
  • Both companies sharing information to obtain the best available solution for the quarry’s operations.

An example of where results were quickly achieved was in the stockpile operations loading product into truck and trailer units from the in-pit crushing operation within the Brookby Quarry for transport to customers throughout the region.

Shine and the Brookby quarry team determined that WA500-6 loaders, fitted with slightly oversize 6.1m3 buckets, would provide an optimum configuration.

However, that required sign-off through Komatsu’s internal “Smart Approved” process, to ensure the material densities would not exceed the loaders’ safe working capabilities over their working life.

With this approval fast-tracked through Komatsu in Japan, three WA500-6 loaders, with 6.1m3 buckets, were delivered to Brookby from April to June this year. At the same time, the quarry’s primary face excavation tool was upgraded from an ageing PC710-X to a new PC1250-8 excavator.

“This was a very good outcome early on for the brand management relationship,” Kaipara’s executive director Steve Riddell said. “Our purchase of the WA500s, with Japan having signed off on the 6.1m3 buckets for our loading operations, is just one of several benefits we are seeing.

“So far the brand management process has been very good and encouraging, and we are now moving onto areas such as parts and maintenance labour issues, invoicing clarity and the like, which we are looking to improve.

“This process encapsulates a number of different targets and objectives that are run between the two parties and which from my perspective is all heading in the right direction.

“The good thing about it is when issues arise – and they do – we get around the table, discuss the issues, agree an outcome and communicate the learnings to everyone.”


{{image3-a:r-w:300}}Kaipara’s decision to join with Komatsu in a brand management partnership was the culmination of an extended process, built upon a relationship of trust and respect developed over many years.

Nearly a year before the granting of the revised resource consent, Kaipara had some early discussions with Komatsu NZ senior management about what its future plant and equipment demands might be. Komatsu NZ’s senior management team saw an opportunity to introduce Kaipara to the brand management concept as a way of forging a far deeper relationship between the two companies, along with delivering significant mutual benefits.

As Komatsu NZ’s regional general manager Phil Pritchard put it, Komatsu brand management had three core elements.

“First, it represents a shift in our typical marketing paradigm from one that is transactional to a relationship,” he said.

“Second, it is designed to render Komatsu invaluable to our customers, in order to continue to be selected as their partner of choice. And third, it requires a change on our part to a customer-centric mindset, along with a strong human resource development aspect.

“In the case of Kaipara, we saw an ideal fit between the two organisations in moving to a brand management partnership. Not only is Kaipara a long-term Komatsu customer, but both companies have been working hard to build a closer relationship.”

In August 2014 Komatsu NZ management met with Kaipara’s senior management team responsible for the Brookby Quarry, including Riddell, Brookby Quarry manager Jamie Dexter and Brookby Quarry workshop supervisor Jason Christie, to outline in detail the Komatsu brand management concept, and its potential benefits for Kaipara.

Following a positive response to this initial meeting, additional meetings were held over the next six weeks to further explore what brand management could mean for the Brookby operation.

This culminated in a meeting between Komatsu Australia’s executive team, headed by managing director and chief executive officer Sean Taylor, and Kaipara’s management team, including owner Alan Drinkrow and managing director Simon Male.

As a result of this meeting, the two companies agreed to proceed with implementing Komatsu brand management principles for the Brookby operation.

Pritchard described the process as an “accelerated business environment” since January 2015. “When the approval came through, Brookby had to rapidly ramp up production,” he said. “We both knew the quarry could not do that with the fleet that it had on the ground.

“But as we’d already gone through two iterations of an optimal fleet recommendation process with Shine, we were able to quickly do a trial that told us the WA500s with 6.1m3 buckets was going to work. That sold the concept.

“This whole process has been made possible by our brand management philosophies and the commitment – from both parties – to embrace it and work with it. Have we perfected it? We are getting there, we could still do better. There are still many aspects of it that we haven’t explored to the full extent.”

Aftermarket, such as parts and service and on-site service technicians, will be the next area to be explored.

“And now that we have got a more up to date fleet in operation, we can start to say, ‘What are the parts supplies that are needed for this equipment?’ and, ‘What are the technicians required to do to keep it up and running?’ ” Pritchard said.

Source: Komatsu Australia

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