Know-how at your service

2011 Dec 22

Technical solutions aimed at increasing productivity in underground operations are constantly being developed. Know-how, on the other hand, is a resource that can be hard to find.

As more mining and construction companies realize the benefits of a total solution approach to their operations, the technical expertise required to put those solutions into practice in the most cost-effective way is not always readily available.

In the fast moving “heat” of the working day in underground excavation, driven by production commitments and economic targets, there is often little time for a broad-based overview of operational efficiency and cost effectiveness.

That’s where Atlas Copco’s Applications Team comes in, the company’s group of technical advisors, which was recently strengthened with the addition of four new members.

The new members are:
ANDERS ÖSTBERG: tunneling specialist, most recently Plant and Machine Man-agement with Veidekke, the Scandi-navian construction company.

ANDY NDULUBILA: mining specialist, responsibl-e for Africa. Ndulubila is also Marketing Manager at Atlas Copco in Zambia.

JOHANNES HANSSON: tunneling specialist, most recently at Ramböll Sweden, part of the leading international design and engineering consultancy.

ÅKE KRUUKKA, mining specialist, most recently Manager New Technologies Mining at the iron ore mining company LKAB.

Together with Senior Advisors Lars Bergkvist (mining) and Gunnar Nord (tunneling), the team now offers more than 100 years of collective knowledge in underground methods, equipment, technology and solutions.

The team operates within the company’s department for Global Projects Marketing based at the division Underground Rock Excavation in Örebro, Sweden. In time, regional advisors may also be appointed, depending on demand.

Broad-based approach
Bergkvist explains the motive for this boost in technical competence: “We have identified a growing demand from mining companies and civil engineers working underground for broad-based advisory services that go above and beyond individual product purchasing and price negotiations.

“These are customers who are beginning to look at the total efficiency of their operations and they want a speaking partner who understands the need for increased productivity in combination with lower overall costs, and who can make proposals for this without getting bogged down in product- related issues.

“Obviously, as a leading global supplier, we can offer a huge variety of cutting-edge technical solutions. But what matters is how to optimize these solutions in order to achieve the best possible overall result. That’s why we have built a team with different competences acquired from the real-life, down-to-earth world of underground rock excavation – in short, people with dirt under their nails. There are not many guys around in the world who have their experience and we are proud to have them on board.”

Gunnar Nord, a senior advisor to Atlas Copco customers on tunneling technique, adds: “There is greater awareness today of total efficiency where the total running cost of equipment is more important than the cost of each individual unit.

“This is a growing trend. More customers are interested in our views on this and we know that they prefer to talk to people who can speak their language, know their business and problems and are not just focused on selling. This group will help to speed up that process. In addition, with customers all over the world, we are also able to take cultural and linguistic differences into account.”

Against this background, what do the new members of the team have to offer Atlas Copco’s customers?

Anders Östberg: “I am interested in machines and production and this combination has followed me throughout my career. I focus on how to manage people and optimize the work that they do, and having been an Atlas Copco customer I understand how the customer thinks and can speak the same language. I also have the knowledge to discuss detailed technical issues for a civil works project for example, which is not so easy for a salesman. The most advanced system can cause problems if you don’t know what it is or how to use it. My philosophy is to be as efficient as possible.”

New opportunities
Andy Ndulubila: The mines are getting wiser and more cost-conscious and we can help them in this process. Technology is now making it possible to mine marginal orebodies – gold, copper, platinum – and to do it at a good profit. I can contribute by helping the customer achieve more tasks with the same equipment in the same application. For example, the drill rig Boomer T1 D, which replaces the Boomer 104 used in narrow vein mining, is now capable of doing two jobs. It drills in the normal way but by using our long-hole kit it can also be converted to do the same job as the Simba 157.

“Another example is the FlexiROC T 15 which has a roll-over boom, enabling it to drill upwards as well as downwards and can also be used underground. These possibilities are very interesting for many mines as a way of optimizing their operations.” (Read more on FlexiROC T 15, page 23).

Johannes Hansson: “One of my main tasks will be to help tunneling customers to optimize their processes. Calculating and designing tunnels often takes a disproportionat-e amount of time in relation to the project itself. I plan to use my knowledge to help tunnelers reduce the time it takes from planning to implementation. This is the first step towards optimizing the work.”

Åke Kruukka: “I aim to expand Atlas Copco’s contacts within the global mining industry. I want to demonstrate that we really understand the mining business and that we are always prepared to listen and respond to the customer’s ideas. After 22 years at LKAB in a variety of mining-related areas, and especially the past nine years working directly with mining equipment technology, I believe that my experiences will be valuable for Atlas Copco’s customers. In addition, my knowledge of geology, rock transport systems and other fields has given me a good all-round picture of what’s involved in running a mining operation.”

Lars Bergkvist concludes that the Applications Team will strengthen the role that Atlas Copco already plays in its customer-s’ businesses. “The focus is shifting from productivity to optimization and the goal is how to achieve smooth operations with no disturbance,” he says. “But this is not going to happen overnight. It is a long term project based on global teamwork.”

Epiroc operated under the trademark “Atlas Copco” prior to January 1, 2018.

The advisors: From left, Johannes Hansson, Lars Bergkvist, Gunnar Nord, Anders Östberg and Andy Ndulubila. The team also includes Åke Kruukka, facing page.