Epiroc 26.05.2020

“It’s all about having smart, safe, and seamless operations” – What is Epiroc’s Startup Collaboration Focus?

Arttu Närhi

Arttu Närhi

Mining and infrastructure solutions provider Epiroc has joined the latest Venture Client Cycle as a full Foundry member. Niklas Forsberg from their Customer Experience Solutions Team shares what startup solutions bring the most value.

At Epiroc, collaboration is key. Being a leader in the mining and infrastructure industry requires long-term work together with clients and partners. One of their experts, who’s primary job is working with clients on a daily basis, is Niklas Forsberg. He is a Portfolio Manager for Customer Experience Solutions. He is the first to tell you that it is sometimes difficult to explain what that means. “Sometimes I wish I was a carpenter,” he jokes. “At least that’s a job everyone knows!”

While the job description might not roll off the tongue, the goals and aims for Niklas are completely unambiguous. His job is to maximize the value clients get from Epiroc’s digital solutions.

Merely Minerals? Mining Solutions Mean Much More

“With services, we need to be able to answer the surrounding needs,” Niklas explains. “It is no longer just about the equipment.” Epiroc teams need to be intimately familiar with their clients’ operating environments to do this. Niklas and his colleagues are faced with questions like ‘how can this product integrate with my business as a whole?’, just as in any other service industry. 

An important aspect of this is data flow and putting that information into use. The top priority is to monitor equipment utilization, detect abnormalities, and predict maintenance needs to avoid unplanned downtime. Digital tools are used to increase equipment efficiency and utilization to maximize investment value. To provide a service like this, Epiroc’s interest is in the kind of service development the Data Gathering and Augmented Support opportunities are searching for.

“It’s like buying a car, you get a lot of supporting services from the dealer too, right?” Niklas describes the idea. “It’s the same model for Epiroc: when we can tell the client when their equipment needs to be serviced, or provide them with the information they need at any time, the experience will be a lot better.” With this approach, the clients can focus on what’s important to them, which is extracting minerals and not maintaining machinery or chasing for information. 

Which Technologies are on the Industry Radar?

Technologies that are of interest to the industry do not vary too much from current global trends. When asking Niklas, it doesn’t take long for him to think of the upcoming game changer.

“Connectivity is on the top of the list. 5G will be a big thing,” he says. “Mesh networking will be another one; only the biggest players will have 5G right at the beginning.”

Going a step beyond, he has his sights set on advancing autonomy as far as it can go. 

“Full autonomy can get people out of unsafe environments,” Niklas describes the big picture. “Computers need to speak amongst themselves, pattern-based steering can run the equipment. It’s all about having smart, safe, and seamless operations.” 

Full autonomy might still take a few years before it gets here. In a traditional industry, most clients gain immediate benefits from relatively simple “upgrades”. In other words, before computers talk with other computers, the field of human-machine collaboration has a lot to offer.