Komatsu Utility Europe, which specialises in compact equipment, is to fit the Komtrax satellite tracking system as standard to its entire range of machines above 1,5 t.

Komtrax, which has been available on Komatsu's larger construction range in Europe for several years, will be fitted as standard on backhoe loaders from January 2008, with telehandlers to follow and then mini and midi excavators. The complete Utility range - including skid steer loaders, backhoes, telehandlers and mini and midi excavators up to 11 t – will have Komtrax fitted by April next year. Only the 0,9 t and 1,5 t mini excavators will not have the system.

Komtrax sends data via the Orbcomm satellite network to a Komatsu facility in Japan which then makes the data available to owners via the internet, at no cost. The system for the Utility range will be a ‘light' version of the standard Komtrax, offering owners the capability to locate a machine and set a security ‘geofence', record operating data (including machine hours and fuel use), and remotely stop and start the engine.

Armando Di Pace, general manager sales and marketing for Komatsu Utility Europe, said Komatsu would be the first manufacturer to offer remote monitoring as standard on compact equipment; “It has already been shown to some large customers, and they are very enthusiastic.”

Komatsu Utility believes the system will be of particular interest to the rental owners who account for over 40% of the company's compact equipment sales. Although of benefit in tracking and monitoring equipment on rent, Komatsu said it will also help lower lifetime operating costs by providing a detailed record of how a machine has been used.

Mr Di Pace said the experience in Japan – where Komtrax has been available for over three years – had shown that resale prices could be 5% higher than machines sold without a detailed operating history.

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