Another in a series of byte-sized one-on-one visits with construction industry insiders. I asked KCMA VP/general manager Gary Bell about the recent purchase by Hitachi Construction Machinery.
1) Explain how wheel loaders will be marketed around the world now that Hitachi Construction Machinery owns KCM.
KCMA is the North American marketing agent for the product, branded Kawasaki-KCM. We will market it in North America and Canada. Latin America will be handled out of Japan with a Tier 2, Tier 3 configuration also Kawasaki-KCM branded.
HCM will market Hitachi-branded wheel loaders in Europe and Russia through HCME, in Japan through HCMJ.
For the rest of the world, both brands will be marketed through KCM and HCM Exports, respectively.
2) Will the new relationship affect the way Hitachi markets its excavators and other products in North America?
No, there won’t be any impact at all on the excavator market. We’re solely charged with selling the wheel loader here. It will also be that same way in South America and in areas where they compete. Where it’s a Hitachi-branded product, the entire line will be sold by the Hitachi dealer. But where’s it’s a Kawasaki-KCM brand, the loader will be marketed separately from the Hitachi-branded product.
3) How is KCMA helping its dealers provide services to end users via telematics?
Our dealers may have a single-line excavator supplier, a single-line roller/compaction line, for example. So it’s been more difficult for them to integrate telematics because they don’t have a single system for all of their products.
We’ve had service manager meetings where we’ve spent a fair amount of time going through the telematics, how they can be utilized, sharing ideas and best practices. In our dealers’ case, having a man dedicated to it when he has to look at five different websites to monitor these things and five different methods of viewing it, it’s a little less-efficient that it would be for a single-line company that can log into one site and see the whole fleet at one time.
The AEM/AEMP Standard [allows] third-party companies to develop software to integrate different lines. This is going to make it easier for our type of dealer, as well as end users, to set up value-added services that are driven by telematics, such as follow-up on services, identification of mechnical problems, just monitoring their location and utilization of their customers’s machines.
Once they have a single software package where they can look at our equipment, their excavator line, and other lines that they have, then it will begin to make more economic sense for a dealer to set up those kind of systems. We’re trying to educate the dealers right now on the benefits, the uses of telematics. As customers have access to these fleet-management packages that they can utilize, they’re going to make more demands on the dealers. I think from this point on, it’s going to be gradually more customer-driven.
The biggest beneficiary, in my opinion, is the dealers because the dealer now has knowledge that he never had before. How he utilizes that knowledge can make a big difference in his service level.