At the Komatsu America Corp. press briefing at ConExpo this morning, Chairman and CEO Dave Grzelak said the company hopes to resume normal production levels in mid-April following the disastrous Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this month.
Three Komatsu plants are currently closed after sustaining minor damage in the quake, two of which are expected to open soon. Aftershocks, blackouts and a disrupted water supply are hampering efforts to restore the plants to full functionality, however.
The Kooriyama plant, located close to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, will remain closed for the time being and Grzelak would not comment on future plans for the facility. Six remaining Japanese Komatsu plants are open and in full production.
Meanwhile, shipment of equipment has been delayed because roads and harbor facilities close to affected plants have been severely damaged. Gasoline shortages and rolling electrical blackouts are making it nearly impossible for Komatsu employees to get to work, Grzelak says.
In an effort to alleviate the situation for its employees and their families, Komatsu America has committed $10 million in relief aid for emergency clinics and prefabricated housing, and is providing the use of its equipment for cleanup efforts. In addition, Komatsu is setting up a fund with the United Red Cross for employees. “Our number-one priority is the safety of our people and assisting with the relief effort,” Grzelak says.