Epiroc: Promising Times Ahead

Jerry Andersson, Managing Director, Epiroc Mining India Limited
Jerry Andersson, Managing Director, Epiroc Mining India Limited, in an interview with Maria R, discusses the company’s increased focus on automation and digitalization, skill development, innovation, and customer retention plans for the Indian market.

What is your outlook for the Indian Mining industry?

The Mining market will continue to grow in India. Steel and coal industries will start to improve their efficiencies, but there is still a great need for exploration to be done in India. It will still take some time as mining operation is dampened by rules and regulations. But the industry looks very promising, and we see a sure positive development in the Indian mining industry in the next 2-3 years.

Atlas Copco Group has recently split in two by creating the new entity - Epiroc. How will this help you rationalize/consolidate business opportunities?

The split makes it possible for us to better focus on our business and as such better serve our customers - from the top, where we now have our own dedicated board and CEO, down to each country where we have focused teams. We didn’t have the same demand drivers and most often, not the same end-markets. As such, we needed a different focus.

We have a large range of Mining and Construction Machinery and attachments under Epiroc, that we provide all over the world. We also manufacturer in India at our plants in Hyderabad and Nasik and are steadily increasing these plants’ output.

Brand substitution is being noticed in the market due to various factors. What, according to you, determines the success or failure of a brand?

Substitution in mining happens for several reasons where pricing and availability play a more important role than many of us think of. But if you want to be in business for long term, you need to know your customer. This is the most important factor for us. We need to know our customer’s business so that we can help him succeed further than just average. Our customers have expectations from us as a brand and we need to ensure that our products perform as promised. Each application may also require a customized approach to be as efficient as possible, and our people have to continuously educate themselves in order to better serve our customers.

Scooptram

What engineering improvisations have been carried out in your mining equipment in the recent past to improve on productivity, fuel efficiency, and safety?

SmartROC D40
Epiroc has more than 1000 engineers engaged in R&D to ensure a continuous output of new ideas and products. Innovation drives everything we do as we believe that there is always a better way, so we strive to improve each and every piece of equipment that we have.

In recent years, we have focused more and more on automation and digitalization, where a lot can be done. With Mobilaris, for instance, we can track all assets and people in real time, thereby, improving safety, planning and efficiency to a level not available before, especially for underground mining equipment.

We also look into making operations more efficient by reducing human errors. Our automated system for scooptrams ensures that the buckets are always filled to the maximum, resulting in higher productivity and less fuel consumption. On our smart drilling rigs for surface quarries we have managed to cut fuel consumption by up to 50%, compared to older conventional models. Our ventilation systems measure the need for air in different areas depending on people and machinery there and adapt the fans accordingly.

We have recently launched a series of fully battery-driven loaders and trucks, and more models are coming. These are just a few of last year’s inventions and developments and more are to come.

What is Epiroc doing to bring about greater operational efficiency and skill development?

Besides innovations to help our customers monitor their operations better, we also invest in people. Operators in India have the possibility to train on simulators where we can evaluate their efficiency and help them improve without damaging the original equipment.

This year, we will start an Epiroc Academy where we plan to take a class of freshers and train them on how to operate, maintain, and repair our equipment. This is to prepare them better and meet the demands from our customers as machines today can be everything, from air-driven to highly computerized.

How do you make your products cost-competitive to own and operate for the highly price-sensitive Indian market?

If you only look at the purchase price of a product, it may look expensive, but if you take complete life and productivity into the cycle of that product, you will see that it is hardly ever economical in the long term to buy a low-cost product. Nevertheless, we also have to adapt to local market conditions. Our factories in Hyderabad and Nashik are producing certain products only for the Indian market with the high quality that our customers expect from us. As the factories have grown over the years, we also export many of the products made here.

How do you ensure preventive and periodic maintenance and proximity to your customers?

Any type of service has to be as close to customers as possible. With the help of digitalization such as remote monitoring, we can add on services that help the customer perform better. The analysis can be done from a back-office operation. Nevertheless, for day-to-day operations and support, you have to be as close as possible to the customers - preferably on site. If you can provide the necessary service to where they are, then they will not feel the need to consider another brand present close by.

What is your expectation from this year Budget?

We expect to grow, maybe not so much in Mining this year as in civil engineering. Road/rail tunnels, irrigation tunnels, hydropower and other infrastructure projects will most likely drive this year’s results for us.

NBM&CW February 2018

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