Meet the Atlas Copco innovators

June 1, 2015

Value creation

Innovation has always been one of the core values of Atlas Copco. Meet five employees who are making significant contributions to innovation.

Maria Gundersen

MARIA GUNDERSEN, ­Department Manager for System Software within R&D at Industrial Technique in Stockholm.

High achiever
Innovation in daily small steps is important for us, which, with the drive for continuous improvement, make great products. We need to be open every day to making ideas happen. An innovation driver is seeing how customers react to our solutions and products. They often say they are better than they could have imagined which is really satisfying. Ambition levels are the main challenge. We need to understand where to draw the line between delivering what is requested and what we think will provide unrivalled customer value. Sometimes the decision lies in where to put the effort, sometimes in how high we should aim. You need to hit the target but also take risks in order to be the best. We overcome these issues through discussion with the development and core teams. Sometimes we need to be persuasive about aiming high, sometimes we need to argue for playing it safe. But it is always important to have discussions.

Jorgen Appelgren

JÖRGEN APPELGREN, Vice President for Automation and Technology ­products at Atlas Copco Rock Drills in Örebro, Sweden.

Robust innovator
Innovation is extremely important to differentiate us from our competitors. We have a clear vision to be the market leader in automation which puts a focus on innovation. It is very motivating to see how our innovations improve our customer’s ways of operating and to see how a new automation innovation can solve customer’s problems. Currently, our most exciting innovation is the development of fully autonomous vehicles for surface and underground operation. This will enable one operator to operate several vehicles. To do this we need to innovate in several technology areas. Our biggest challenge is ensuring that our innovations are robust and capable of operating 24/7 in harsh environments. We must keep this in mind when selecting technologies during the design phase and ensure rigorous testing and validation.

Tracy Ji

TRACY JI, Senior Electrical Engineer Atlas Copco Construction and Mining Equipment, Underground Rock Excavation, Research & Development, Nanjing – China.

All-round innovator
Customers expect the best so it is important that we are innovative in everything we do. The Atlas Copco culture and core values help motivate me to be innovative. They remind me that everything is improving very fast; customer expectations, technological quality of products, and our own skills development. We have to be innovative with the products we create and the way we do things. A typical case to illustrate innovation is the Locomotive transfer project in Nanjing in which the main challenge to innovation is time. There is limited time for knowledge transfer and for solving problems and meeting delivery targets. To help overcome the knowledge transfer issues we rotate engineers with organisations we are working with. We communicate and learn from each other and establish new working methods for specific projects very quickly.

Guy Laps

GUY LAPS, Technology and Innovation manager for Atlas Copco’s Portable Energy division in Antwerp, Belgium.

Team player
As an engineer it is very satisfying to invent things and find solutions. But ­innovation does not come from just thinking about it. It comes from interacting with suppliers, customers and ­colleagues. Innovation is all about teamwork. One exciting innovation I was involved with was the HardHat we created for small compressors. This virtually indestructible canopy meant the units were more visually appealing, which was important as they are used for road side repairs and are therefore publically visible. The innovation also meant they required less repair work and increased the resell value. We promoted the new feature in an innovative way using youtube. The biggest challenge to innovation is how to pick the best ideas. It is difficult to predict a business case when the technology is still evolving. So we must manage uncertainties through interaction with the stakeholders. We are currently working on innovative ideas for energy efficiency, ease of use, product cost and robustness.

Bert Derom

BERT DEROM, Vice President of Marketing for Atlas Copco Industrial Air division, in Antwerp, Belgium.

Business focussed
In my previous job as a Product Marketing Manager I was involved in an innovative product which generated huge market acceptance and won an innovation award. This was the VSD+ (Variable Speed Drive Plus). Compressor technology is very mature so it’s very hard to innovate. But we created a redesigned compact machine that produces more compressed air at far lower energy costs. In my current work the innovations are more strategic; thinking about which products we should focus on and how we see the future. We need to think about innovation in the sales process and the entire value chain that we bring to customers. At Atlas Copco you can interact daily with everyone from sales staff to engineers. A big driver for me is to bring all these people together and create fantastic products and solutions that can, for example, contribute to reducing energy consumption. We are working on some great product innovations now but the biggest challenge is in the way we are organized. We need to be really innovative about becoming more efficient and more business focussed.

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