Epiroc goes from a great to greater beginning

A year after Atlas Copco’s Mining and Rock Excavation division spun out from the group, the new standalone business known as Epiroc has continued to expand its mining fleet and automation footprint at some of Australia’s biggest mine operations.

With ‘Epi’ meaning ‘on’ or ‘at’ in Latin and Greek, and ‘Roc’ signalling stability and durability, Epiroc has lived up to its name despite structural changes and many acquisitions within the last year and a half.

The idea behind the takeovers is to acquire the right companies that fit within Epiroc’s overall strategy and grow the strength of the business, according to Epiroc Australia finance manager and Women in Industry Awards business development manager finalist, Claudia Ledesma.

“A challenge I find really interesting right now is working with intellectual property and the less tangible services Epiroc offers with digitalisation and automation of our products and the equipment of other OEMs. It’s a new way of working for us,” she tells Australian Mining.

Recent acquisitions, following on from Mobilaris Mining Intelligence in 2017, include ASI Mining, Fordia Group and Sautec – international companies that offer technology and expertise to complement Epiroc’s mining equipment and automation focus.

“As finance manager, a key thing for me is to make it easy to do business with Epiroc whether that be through acquisitions, contract negotiations, order processing or following up on customer queries,” Ledesma says.

“On the business development side, I help smooth the way for our acquisitions. I work out the best way to optimise the skills of the group and our new partners.

“It is important that we focus on making sure that we have the right resources to help support the acquisitions and that they understand how we work.”

Epiroc has a strong focus on innovation, and automation plays a role in expanding the capability of the company, according to Ledesma.

Claudia Ledesma.

From an automation perspective, Epiroc has experts within the business that go out and take the company to that next level.

Automation is not only a technology Epiroc is trying to sell, it is also the company’s way of manufacturing. Its 1400-square-metre heat treatment plant in Örebro, Sweden, for example, runs 24 hours a day to further boost its rock drill quality and performance thanks to automation.

Epiroc is also moving away from diesel equipment to battery-operated machines, a path that its founding father Atlas Copco has arguably passed on after more than 140 years of experience and journey into an electric future.

The company released its first generation battery electric machinery in 2016, focusing on smaller models of underground trucks, loaders and drills. Epiroc followed this with the development of the second-generation battery platform for its larger machines in 2018.

The direction Epiroc is taking highlights that sustainability and fuel efficiency remains as its core focus in being a leader of industry trends.

“It’s been a great journey for us in the last year. From being a part of a 145-year-old company to becoming a 145-year-old start-up. 2019 is still a time of growth for us,” Ledesma says.

Epiroc went public on the NASDAQ stock market in June 2018. Ledesma speaks with Australian Mining a day after celebrating the company’s first birthday in the Perth office, recounting people’s strong recognition for the young company.

“People are recognising that Epiroc is now yellow and grey, not the big, blue logo. A year ago, when I said I was working for Epiroc, people would say that they weren’t sure who we were. I had to explain what we sell,” Ledesma recalls.

“Today when I say I work for Epiroc, people recognise the brand.”

Epiroc’s split from Atlas Copco may be Ledesma’s most challenging project in her combined 13-year career. However, the process of rolling out a new brand, rebranding all its sites and opening a new head office in Western Australia, and making a string of acquisitions “has been very rewarding.”

“It’s very satisfying to see that the move seems to be the right one. Epiroc made it to the top 10 employers in Sweden this year, so that was pretty awesome for a new brand to do in the first year,” Ledesma concludes.

This article also appears in the August edition of Australian Mining.

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