Komatsu invests in handler production

29 February 2008

Komatsu Utility Europe has created a dedicated production line for telehandlers at its Este facility in northern Italy and said it hoped the increased production capacity would allow it to manufacture over 1000 units next year.

Handlers were previously built on the same line as backhoe loaders at the plant, but the rapid increase in demand for backhoes – particularly from eastern Europe – had limited the opportunity to increase telehandler production. The company launched the handlers in Europe three years ago.

Production capacity will now be five machines a day. However, Mr Enrico Tonetti, managing director of Komatsu Utility Europe, said the new line was still a temporary solution; “We will be going to a second generation of the telehandlers, and we need a definitive solution.”

The Este plant also manufactures skid steer loaders, mini and midi excavators up to 11 t, and backhoe loaders. “We are now making too many products in a single place”, said Mr Tonetti, “This is not the ideal situation.“ He said it was premature to speculate on where the telehandlers would eventually be produced.

Mr Armando Di Pace, general manager sales and marketing at Komatsu Utility Europe, added that it was not Komatsu's aim to compete with the specialist telehandler manufacturers – there will not, for example, be any Komatsu ‘Roto' handlers - but that Komatsu remained committed to the handler market; “It is clear that growth will be very steady next year.”

Meanwhile, Komatsu said it would not launch its handlers in North America. “We made a study with our US colleagues and decided not to start”, said Mr Tonetti.

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