Atlas Copco in Central Asia
Growth through Innovation and Interaction
Mr Odd Reknes, General Director of Atlas Copco Central Asia, is answering questions of our magazine
Mr Reknes, it is not a secret that Atlas Copco is one of the world’s leading companies in machine-building engineering; can you tell us about your company’s evolution and how it conquered the market?
Our company has a rich history lasting for more than 130 years. A starting point was the year 1873 when AB Atlas was founded in Sweden. With the mission to manufacture and sell railway equipment it became the largest manufacturing company in Sweden at that time. The year 1905 with the introduction of its first rock drill was soon followed by development of other hand held rock drills. In 1917, AB Atlas merged with AB Diesel Motorer, becoming AB Atlas Diesel. Then, in 1956 the company was completely focused on compressed air and this was manifested by changing the company's name to Atlas Copco, which we use today. "Copco" stands for Compagnie Pneumatique Commerciale, from a Belgian subsidiary. In 1968, a major reorganisation was undertaken and three new business areas were formed: Mining and Construction Technique, Airpower, and Tools. These business areas are still remaining priority for us. At the 100 year anniversary, in 1973 the first hydraulic rock drill the COP 1038 was introduced. This was a great success and followed by a rapid development of advanced underground and surface drilling rigs, and even more high performing rock drills and automated drilling systems.
What is a size of the Atlas Copco global business today?
Today Atlas Copco is a global industrial company. Companies within the Group develop and manufacture industrial tools, compressors, construction and mining equipment, assembly systems, as well as related services and rental of equipment. The headquarters of the Group is in Stockholm. The Group employs more than 27,000 people working at more than 30 industrial enterprises in 16 countries around the world. Furthermore, we have a network of more than 160 customer centres and representative offices in 68 countries. Atlas Copco revenues for 2005 totalled $6,900m.
Can you tell us about Atlas Copco activities here, in Kazakhstan?
In the Kazakhstan market, our products were introduced in 1990, when the first Atlas Copco drilling rig was sold to one of leading mining Kazakh companies. In 1998 we established the representative office of Atlas Copco in Kazakhstan, which we reorganised into the branch office in 2001. By 2003 we had 14 employees though at that time we had mainly one major customer. In order to develop the company and increase the number of active customers we have been investing more in people: employing highly qualified specialists and we have also developed individual training plans. At the same time we started to develop our business within the CIS mainly in Uzbekistan and Armenia. I can say that this strategy was successful. Today we can see an increasing demand for Atlas Copco equipment and we are able to serve our clients in a more efficient manner.
It was then decided to create Atlas Copco Central Asia which has been operating in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Mongolia since 1 January 2006. Today we have a fully established customer centre with 35 employees and more than 60 active customers in our region, like the Kazakhmys Corporation, Kazzinc, Bogatyr Access Komir, Kazakhaltyn and Almatymetro among others. Some of our more recent customer support developments are establishing a branch in Armenia and expansion of our representative office in Uzbekistan.
First in Mind – First in Choice – that is one of your company’s slogans. In this connection we have a question: how Atlas Copco manages to be perceived as being first in choice?
In my opinion, the thing is that our activity is always in line with the main objective – to help our customers find solutions offering them superior productivity and low operational costs. This has to be done by providing our customer with the most reliable and high performing products and services. All Atlas Copco products have been approved by Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance Ltd. as complying with the strict quality requirements of ISO 9001. Moreover, the high quality combined with professionally trained service mechanics and engineers helps maintain the high performance and productivity during the lifetime of the equipment.
Kazakhstan is not an exception – since 1 January, 2006 we have been implementing full service for our customers. Now Atlas Copco Central Asia will both supply equipment and offer service contracts taking full responsibility for maintenance. In these cases we allocate a group of professional engineers and mechanics who will be available 24 hours 7 days a week to service a customer.
I can tell even more – to raise productivity and machine availability and minimise downtime we are establishing service facilities located closely to our customers’ sites.
What kind of equipment does Atlas Copco Central Asia supply to its customers?
We believe in a continuous development of more efficient products, high performing and easy to use and maintain. By offering our customers superior productivity solutions, we help them reduce their costs and increase their output. That is the reason why all Atlas Copco latest models are in high demand. Four of our most advance drilling rigs, Boomer M2C, were delivered to one of our key customers this year. These are fully computerised drilling rigs for drifting and tunnelling. We are also supplying fully computerised production drilling rigs Simba L3C to another big customer. Within one month we are going to deliver our first batch of Scooptram loaders and Minetrucks to our major customer, which is a big gold mine in Uzbekistan. During this year we have also sold a number of ROC L8 surface drilling rigs for open-pit mining. These rigs are of special interest to customers who are interested in the advantages they can get when reducing the hole diameter in their drilling and blasting programmes in surface mining.
We are very optimistic about the future, and we expect that the number of active customers will increase even more. To a large extent our expectations of a positive growth will be based on the gradual strengthening of our service organisation.
Educated in Norway with his major in Mechanical Engineering, Odd Reknes has worked in Atlas Copco worldwide for more than 20 years. He began his career in 1984 as a Service Engineer. Afterwards he moved to Iran, being employed for as a Technical Manager there. Then Odd Reknes worked in Germany as a Technical Representative, and in Malaysia as a Service Manager. Before starting in Kazakhstan he was employed in 1996 in Atlas Copco Vietnam as the General Manger for this country. Since 2003 Odd Reknes has been responsible for the general management of Atlas Copco in Central Asia.
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