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Moving Forward with Operational Excellence

Last December, SMS Equipment's remanufacturing facility in Acheson, Alberta, was awarded Komatsu Mining Global Support (KMGS) certification. The award makes it the only KMGS-certified shop in Canada and the only one globally not owned by Komatsu. 

To qualify, the Centre had to demonstrate adherence to the same operational standards that have made Komatsu a global quality leader in the equipment field. In this edition of Experts Corner, Rory MacKenzie, Continuous Improvement Project Manager and a 33-year SMS Equipment veteran, discusses the Reman Centre's journey to operational excellence and what this certification means.


A multi-faceted facility

SMS Equipment's Remanufacturing Centre occupies a 117,000 square foot Shop, 75,000 sqare foot Warehouse, and Reman offices all adjoining the company's head office just outside Edmonton. The shop runs 24/7 with a busy schedule of major rebuilds of Komatsu equipment, including wheel motors, transmissions, drive motors, traction alternators, suspension systems, hydraulic pumps and cylinders.

"Our Customers from every part of Canada send us their major components for rebuild" says MacKenzie. "We take them apart, evaluate them, salvage the good parts, and rebuild according to Komatsu's latest standards."

Proof of excellence

In 2019, the SME Equipment Executive team decided to apply for Komatsu Mining Global Support (KMGS) certification. "We've been running our Acheson shop since 2008," says MacKenzie, "and became eager to pursue this certification a couple of years ago.  A colleague and I conducted a number of pre-audits in our shop to find if we had any gaps. With the pre-audit results in hand we made some minor changes to align our systems. Komatsu then came for a final 5-day audit last September, and we passed with flying colours."

The certification process revealed that our Reman Centre and Komatsu have similar values. "We didn't have to change very much regarding how we do things for certification," says MacKenzie, "because we were doing those things before. The process was natural for the  Reman team, as we had all the quality control in place."
The certification has three levels. The Reman Centre expects to attain level two later this year and level three in 2023.
Always getting better

Always getting better

Like Komatsu, the SMS Equipment Reman Centre promotes a culture of continuous improvement (CI) where employees have a say in improving their work processes. "We listen to what our people are saying and show them that we're open to making things better," says MacKenzie. "Maybe there's a better tool we could be using or we could improve the ergonomics to make the workflow more efficient. I always tell everyone that you should be able to see an improvement every month and that you've moved forward."

Keeping a clean and orderly shop is essential to maintaining that culture - a principle that management takes seriously. "There are 33 different areas in the shop we audit for cleanliness every week," says MacKenzie, “The audit results are posted on the work cell boards, and any deficiencies corrected.” 

Access to resources

KMGS certification has connected the Reman Centre with Komatsu's Global Remanufacturing network. "We're now part of the family, which gives us better access to Komatsu's Reman systems globally," says MacKenzie. "So we can share information on a specific component issue, salvage procedures, etc. It also gives SMS Equipment access to the latest information on new components and changes Komatsu has made to its products."

An extra level of support

With a team of highly-skilled personnel, the Reman Centre has the experience, expertise and resources to provide factory-level support for the SMS Equipment Service Branches and their Customers. 

"Many of the Technicians in our Reman Centre have gone out into the Field Operations, and we have people from the Field who come to work in Reman," says MacKenzie. "So if a Branch calls with a specific problem, we can get the right people on the phone to help resolve the issue."

A great place to work

The Continuous Improvement Environment makes the Reman Centre a great place to work. "People see that our shop is top-notch, up-to-date, and equipped with great tooling. It's always kept clean, and we have an outstanding Safety record," says MacKenzie. "We also provide training and keep our people involved in improvement projects."

The bottom line - moving forward

The Komatsu Mining Global Support (KMGS) certification is much more than a piece of paper - it represents inclusion in a quality partnership with one of the most respected manufacturers in the equipment industry. As Komatsu continues its operational excellence journey, SMS Equipment will be travelling the same road.
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