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Mining Equipment-Maker Improves Productivity, Safety With Heavy-Duty Positioners



July 1, 2021 - Joy Global Underground Mining LLC, a subsidiary of Komatsu Mining Corp., provides essential mining equipment and systems to companies worldwide to extract fundamental minerals for developing modern infrastructure, technology, and consumer products.

As a large company manufacturing large equipment and frames of different sizes, Komatsu needed a positioner with a heavy capacity. Turning the frames took a minimum of 30 min. and required three to four workers using cranes, so the company wanted to improve productivity as well as safety. In early 2019 Joe Nara, sales service manufacturing coordination manager for Komatsu’s crushing business, started searching for a positioner on the internet.


Nara found ALM just at the time ALM was developing its Heavy Duty (HD) line of positioners, with capacities from 75,000 to 125,000 lbs. Komatsu purchased two 100,000-lb. headstock with adjustable rail tailstock positioners.

Even with such a heavy capacity, the footprint of the positioner did not take up a lot of floor space. “The ALM positioner has a significantly smaller footprint than its competitors, even at such a high capacity,” said Nara. “Since we did not have the required amount of concrete, we had to add a 3-in. plate to anchor the positioner directly to the floor. Even with that plate, the footprint is still small.”

The positioners are structurally designed to a 3-to-1 safety factor and feature safety scanners that protect the operator while the machine is in motion. “The safety scanner is by far the top benefit. Using the Keyence safety scanners with the positioners has helped us tremendously,” Nara explained.

“The next benefit would be that we can move frames through our line faster. The positioner keeps our cost down, and having a high-capacity positioner means that it can be used with the wide range of frames with which we work.

“It now takes about four minutes to lift the frame to the top and rotate it 360 degrees and back down,” Nara continued. “The guys out in the shop feel much safer using the positioners instead of a crane. Plus, using positioners frees up the overhead crane for other parts of the facility.” Nara said using the positioners has saved around 100 hours per frame, a significant improvement.

“We use these positioners as a part of our selling strategy, which in itself is important. We love bringing our customers into our facility to show them how the frame is coming out; they are instantly impressed. When they come in, they see the benefits of the positioners, particularly that their frames are getting completed faster,” Nara said. “The president and vice president of our division were also very impressed when they came in for a tour. It was nice to see that their reaction was so positive. Showing them where we had made improvements, not only from a production standpoint but safety as well, made it clear that purchasing the positioners was worth the investment.”