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Komatsu welcomes Williams Racing driver Alex Albon

Komatsu welcomes Williams Racing driver Alex Albon to Osaka ahead of Japanese Grand Prix

Komatsu welcomes Williams Racing driver Alex Albon to Osaka ahead of Japanese Grand Prix

Williams Racing driver Alex Albon visited the home of team Principal Partner Komatsu in Osaka ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Over 3,000 Komatsu employees greeted the 28-year-old upon his arrival at the site, adorned by cherry blossom, as the Japanese race moved to its earlier springtime slot on the calendar. He was given a rapturous welcome as he arrived aboard a Komatsu WA100 wheel loader, with the excited workforce eagerly waving traditional Japanese fans.

Arriving at the Komatsu Training Centre, one of several stops on his tour, Albon met Senior Executive Officer Koichi Honda, Osaka Plant Manager Norihiko Tanigawa, GM of the General Affairs Department, Osaka Plant Toru Wakabayashi and Committee Chairman, Komatsu Union Osaka Branch, Yasuaki Yoneda before revealing a Komatsu HB205 Hybrid Excavator branded in special Williams Racing colours – created for the occasion.

Albon visited the manufacturing plant, where he got the chance to swap his Williams Racing seat for that of a Komatsu excavator, operating the machine via remote control. He proved to be an instant hit, ably using the machinery, and once again showing his skills behind the ‘wheel’!

An afternoon tour of ‘Plant 1’ allowed Komatsu staff to meet their new hero, lining a path through the plant to cheer on the Williams Racing driver and his team for the race in Suzuka this weekend. An impressive archway of Komatsu excavators created a fitting entrance, before the employees formed a human number #23 shape to commemorate Alex, who runs with the number 23 in Formula 1.

The tour continued through Komatsu’s Manufacturing Engineering Development Centre and Osaka Technical Centre, where staff quizzed the driver on his pathway to Formula 1. One of the design team, whose eight-year-old son wants to become an F1 driver, was given sage advice by Alex, who himself started his karting career aged eight.

The day ended with 140 of the employees enjoying a Q+A session, and taking part in a lucky draw, in which 20 winners received co-branded Komatsu and Williams Racing apparel. The visit provided the perfect start to Albon’s Japanese Grand Prix weekend with technology and innovation, passionate fans, and with Alex firmly in the driving seat.

Alex Albon, Williams Racing driver said: “It has been a special day for me visiting Komatsu’s plant in Osaka, seeing the impressive facility up close, along with its 3,000 staff. I was given a unique welcome with lines of Komatsu staff waving their flags as I arrived in the passenger seat of the Komatsu hybrid excavator – an amazing experience. There are lots of parallels between the Komatsu plant and our own Williams Racing factory in the UK, with technology and innovation and a team of passionate individuals all creating value together. It was a pleasure to see and speak to so many of the employees and also to get the chance to drive an excavator via remote control. It was a lot of fun and although I like my driving a bit faster, I could really understand why Komatsu is so passionate about its industry and technology – especially the hybrid digger that was given the Williams Racing treatment. Komatsu is an exciting new partner for our team, and we are already enjoying the mutual benefits of the partnership.”

Osaka plant is one of Komatsu’s twelve manufacturing plants in Japan and covers a vast 545,000 square metres across its entire site. It manufactures medium sized and large hydraulic excavators, large bulldozers, recycling equipment and final drive. 

Koichi Honda, Senior Executive Officer of Komatsu Ltd said: “Komatsu and Williams have a great sense of shared values, with a common focus on the important role our people play in developing the most cutting-edge technical solutions in our respective fields. Our team at Osaka really enjoyed the opportunity to compare F1 technology with Komatsu technology – and it was great to hear Alex’s thoughts on what it was like to operate an excavator.”

Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine | The Home of Manufacturing Industry News

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