"We wanted to have a focused organization that lives, breathes, and works within mining, natural resources and infrastructure segments. To ensure that Epiroc reaches its full potential, it needs full focus. This is what the split is about."
Can you explain more about the strategy behind the rebranding decision and what the process will look like internally?
We first broke the news of the proposed split internally in January 2017, but the official name of Epiroc was announced at a later date. In fact, our letterhead still states Epiroc, part of the Atlas Copco Group, because we are still not entirely separate. The formal separation will happen following an AGM on the 24th of April 2018, and we anticipate that Epiroc will be a standalone organization by June 2018.
We wanted to have a focused organization that lives, breathes, and works within mining, natural resources and infrastructure segments. To ensure that Epiroc reaches its full potential, it needs full focus. This is what the split is about — enhancing the focus thanks to dedicated management teams and a Board. The split will enable Epiroc to add value to customers, grow the business and attract talent.
How have your customers reacted to the split?
Nearly a year has passed since the news circulated within the public domain, and we found that many of our clients are already aware of the proposed separation. I would estimate that three quarters of our clients understand the migration and the reasons behind it. A small section may still not know, but the majority of our clients now know us as Epiroc and have embraced the change well.
How will the change impact the innovation environment in Epiroc’s mining product design?
Following the split from Atlas Copco, Epiroc is looking to be a solution provider in mining and infrastructure. We have been engaging with our clients, and are actively listening to their needs. They want safety with no compromises. They want people to be more productive though state of the art machines that have a high level of automation. This combination will improve their bottom line. Therefore, our focus going forward will be more automation for both surface and underground mining. We are looking at more synergy between the machines and the operator, for example where an operator could work two or more machines in the autonomous mode at the same time from a comfortable air conditioned room located far away from site. Innovation and product development will be at the core of driving the Epiroc brand.
What is your response to clients that are concerned about the learning curve that comes with more technologically advanced equipment?
It is actually much easier to troubleshoot technologically advanced machines since display modules in the operator cabin actually showcase where the fault lies. In fact, it is much easier to fix faults now than with conventional equipment. Engaging a younger workforce that is more confident with gadgets will be very useful when working with computerized equipment
Which of your products is most popular right now in the African markets, and what does that tell to you about the current market situation?
Generally, if you talk to mining equipment companies, they will say that the bellwether is exploration, and right now there is a new buzz within the exploration sector. With the commodity prices firming up, a number of mining companies want to increase spends in exploration so as to find new mineral deposits and this is a precursor to higher investment in mining.
How do you predict the African mining scene will evolve over the next few years, and how will Epiroc adapt to that outlook?
Our Epiroc team in South Africa is responsible for five countries including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. With customers including contractors spreading their wings across this domain, we are going to work with a ‘One Region, One Team’ approach so that we are better aligned with the market. We believe that through such a regional approach we can better serve our customers. I believe we have the capabilities, competence and resources in Southern Africa Region to deliver Epiroc’s vision to be the customer’s first choice and the mission to be the leading global productivity partner. We can help demonstrate to the global markets that Africa is valuable and has much to offer.