Production Starts at Komatsu's New Factory in Northern Sweden

Anna Fredriksson, plant manager, Komatsu Forest

Tue August 24, 2021

Forest machine production will soon begin at Komatsu Forest's newly built factory outside Umeå in northern Sweden.

Here, assembly will take place on a single production line, around which the flows of both materials and people are optimized and automated to ensure high product quality and a high level of customer service.

Work began in early August 2021 to introduce and prepare roughly 220 employees to the new production system. Although many of them have worked at the company for a long time, there are new tasks and processes to get acquainted with.

"Our new production setup, which entails, among other things, a single assembly line where we build both harvesters and forwarders, offers many advantages, including the ability to follow up quality, availability and safety in detail. Our customers will also experience greater flexibility and shorter lead times," said Anna Fredriksson, factory manager, Komatsu Forest.

The assembly line is driven by automated guided vehicles, or AGVs for short, which are driverless forklifts that automatically move along the production line at slow speed. The investment in AGVs will enable a new, safer way of working as the machines do not need to be lifted to move them along the line. In turn, fewer lifts means a safer work environment for assembly line staff.

Everything is planned down to the smallest detail to optimize logistical flows and minimize movements, even those of staff. A brand-new inventory management system tracks where each component is in the process and ensures its correct location in the flow. Moreover, most components are stored indoors in the warm, which ensures not only better quality, but also shorter lead times. Production staff also have been involved in the design and layout of their workstations — everything to ensure seamless integration with the production process.

Internal quality control is better planned at the new factory, with any identified shortcomings in quality rectified as early as possible in the production process. There also are good opportunities to minimize all types of corrective and touch-up painting, which will lessen environmental impact and reduce chemical use, thereby also improving the work environment, the company said.

Safety always comes first at Komatsu, and the new factory has been carefully planned to eliminate risks. The fact that all operations are now gathered in one place means, for example, that no forest machines need to be driven on public roads. Driving routes and roads, both inside and outside, are well considered and clearly marked to ensure, for example, that forest machines are kept separate from other traffic within the factory grounds.

"This is an important step in the history of Komatsu Forest. We are both happy and proud to be commissioning our new plant. At the same time, this is just the beginning — the office building will also be completed by the end of the year, and it will only be then that all employees are gathered in one place. This is where the fun begins, in our long-term efforts to manage all these new opportunities," Fredriksson said.

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