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Engineering & Construction

Komatsu adds tech to lineup with off-brand dump truck monitoring

Japan's top construction equipment maker seeks new revenue sources

A Komatsu mining dump truck: The company's Komtrax monitoring system has come standard on equipment since 2001.

TOKYO -- Komatsu, Japan's top construction machinery maker, will make its remote monitoring system available to other manufacturers' dump trucks for the first time.

Komtrax uses satellite positioning data to locate equipment and monitor its operational status. The system has come standard on some Komatsu machines since 2001, but the company will now offer it as a stand-alone product.

The move shows Komatsu following other industrial groups in adding digital services as a revenue source, offering customers ways to manage diverse equipment fleets.

Komatsu ranked second in global construction machine sales by market share last year, with 11.5%, according to research firm KHL Group. It trailed industry-leading U.S. rival Caterpillar's 16.2% share, with Chinese competitors XCMG and Sany moving up to fourth and fifth, propelled by growth in their vast home market.

Komtrax hardware consists of a postcard-size terminal that connects to a dump truck's electrical system. It allows managers to monitor such data as the truck's speed.

Keeping tabs on dump trucks can help companies improve efficiency. Excavators and laborers can be ready to load trucks if they know the arrival time. The system can also be used to plan the best routes to multiple jobs.

About 600,000 Komatsu machines equipped with Komtrax are in service worldwide, according to the company. 

The terminal will be sold by Tokyo startup Landlog, whose shareholders include Komatsu and wireless carrier NTT Docomo.

The coronavirus pandemic has sapped Komatsu's growth as construction projects worldwide fall behind schedule. The company expects to ship fewer machines in Japan this year than in 2019. Selling Komtrax offers Komatsu a way to reach beyond its existing customer base.

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