Komatsu’s Italian manufacturing base is changing its name from Komatsu Utility Europe (KUE) to Komatsu Italia Manufacturing, and has celebrated its 50th anniversary.
In addition to the utility line that has historically been produced at the site in Este, the factory recently added the production of the PC138US-10 tracked excavator.
Enrico Prandini, managing director of KUE, said, “Constantly in search of new structures and improvements, the production facility in Este is today writing another important page in its history.”
The factory was founded by Giovanni Bettanin in 1963 as FAI, and a partnership with Komatsu dates back to 1988 when Bettanin approached the Japanese company with a view to working together to produce mini excavators. An agreement was signed that year for the production of mini excavators in Italy under licence to Komatsu.
The company was bought by Komatsu in 1996. At that time, the company stopped producing excavators to concentrate on utility machines – mini excavators, midi excavators, backhoe loaders and skid steer loaders.
“Over the years, our company has witnessed many changes,” said Prandini. “Economically, we have passed through the various cycles of growth, maturity and crisis. Socially, we have followed the evolution of relationships at home and in the workplace and observed how lifestyles change.”
He said the company had seen how customs had changed, too, “as we observe the evolution of ways of life – technologically, by anticipating different types of innovation, we have improved the work we provide to our customers.”
He added, “We have improved with regards to organisation thanks to the seamless integration of Italian ingenuity and the Komatsu Way – the Japanese philosophy which aims for continuous improvement at maximum efficiency.”
Chairman and CEO of Komatsu Tetsuji Ohashi said, “It was 1992 when I visited FAI for the first time to participate in meetings on the development of a new hydraulic mini excavator. At the time, I worked for Komatsu UK as production control manager and EDP (Electronic Data Processing) manager.
“I have been there many times since then and I am really impressed by the fact that each time I go, I see that the plant's productivity has improved.”
He said that market conditions in Europe had been difficult for some time now, “but all tunnels have an entrance and an exit”. He said he had no doubts that European markets would make a comeback.
“To be ready, all we have to do is continue to act diligently as always. And the future won't be a disappointment.”
He added, “Over the course of 50 years of growth, KUE has earned a very important place in the European operations of Komatsu Group.”
Keiko Fujiwara, managing director & CEO of Komatsu Europe International, said, “Komatsu's European organisation is a multinational and multicultural team whose long-term vision is geared towards sustainable development based on principles of technological innovation, efficiency and comprehension of customer demands.”
She continued, “After 25 years of sharing a history, Komatsu Utility Europe (KUE) remains one of our main partners. The untiring spirit that distinguishes them in seeking constant improvement, in sync with the Komatsu Way, stands as an example of Italian excellence, and the richness of their culture is a resource of inestimable value for the European organisation.”
Speaking about the Italian factory, Prandini said, “Europe is our domestic market, but then we are exporting to Australia, Southern Africa, Japan, Turkey, Russia, and also some countries in the Far East like Cambodia.”
He said he felt that backhoe loaders would slowly disappear from Western Europe. “It’s a question of time, but surely this is a machine that will be replaced by minis.”
He added that for his company, it was really important to produce good machines in terms of quality of product, because there should be a complete package for customers, including aftersales care.
At the production plant and in the grounds of the castle of Este, the 50th anniversary of Komatsu Utility Europe was celebrated with major European and North African retailers. A number of trees were planted outside the factory to commemorate the anniversary, and a vintage model mini excavator was unveiled nearby on a roundabout in the town. A gala dinner was hosted at the castle to mark the occasion.