At Atlas Copco, innovation is not just something that provides a competitive advantage – it’s a core value.
Original Krupp hydraulic breaker
Any innovation, no matter how unique and unprecedented, is only useful if it leads to a product that interests customers. “I might invent a bicycle that could also make coffee, but who would want it?” asks Torsten Ahr, Atlas Copco’s Vice President Marketing, Hydraulic Attachments. “To be innovative, an inventor has to go out in the field and talk to customers, ask about their needs and their challenges. That’s how you get ideas that turn into products and solutions.”
Atlas Copco Portable Energy’s Technology and Innovation Manager Guy Laps agrees, saying the company doesn’t do innovation just for the sake of innovation. “We want to have things that are useful for the customer and that differentiate us from the competition, preferably in such a way that the competition has difficulty catching up.”
Over the years, Atlas Copco has developed and marketed products that have revolutionized the construction industry while enjoying considerable success with customers. Here is a look at three of those products.
The hydraulic breaker
The hydraulic breaker was originally developed 50 years ago by the German company Krupp Berco Bautechnik, which Atlas Copco acquired in 2002.
The Krupp unit developed the rigmounted hydraulic breaker and patented it in 1963. The aim was to save time and labor in demolition and mining operations. With the new machine, one person could do as much work as several people using the pneumatic tools that were in wide use at the time.
“The revolutionary thing about this product is that an ordinary excavator becomes a tool carrier,” says Ahr. “If you install a bucket, it’s an excavator. If you install a breaker, it’s a demolition machine. The hydraulic attachment defines what the machine is at any given moment.”
Today, hydraulic breakers are used around the world, produced and sold under more than 300 brands. Atlas Copco produces 50 different models aimed at various market segments.
Dynapac CA25 roller
The CA25 roller was developed at the end of the 1960s at Vibro-Plus Inc. Production began in 1969 in the United States, and the product was launched worldwide.
The first heavy self-propelled soil compactor, with the drum in front and a tractor at the rear, the CA25 became the world’s leading compaction roller. Over the next few years, several variations were marketed, including one version with a padded drum for paving clay.
The manufacturer changed its name to Dynapac in 1973, and Atlas Copco acquired the company in 2007, placing the CA model range in its Road Construction Equipment division. A recent monster version of the roller, the CA702, is Dynapac’s heaviest soil compactor and one of the biggest in the world. It was developed for the world’s heaviest large-scale compaction work, which includes work on dams, airfields, harbors and major railway and road projects.
DrillAir™ portable compressor
Atlas Copco’s DrillAir™ portable compressors have gained wide acceptance in the field of drilling for geothermal energy, where heat from a 200-meter-deep hole in a homeowner’s backyard can replace an oil or gas heating system.
Drilling companies favor the DrillAir™ because they can complete a job in one day, making their operation much more efficient than with earlier rigs. Laps says that the DrillAir™ is “best in class” in a number of areas, including noise level, compactness and energy efficiency.
Dmitry Karablinov, Product Market Manager for Large Compressors, points out that a geothermal heating system can reduce a homeowner’s energy bill by as much as 30 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that geothermal drilling is already popular in the Nordic countries and Switzerland, and it’s becoming more widespread in the rest of the world.