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Africa Outlook

Zambia
Copco
Atlas

ATLAS COPCO ZAMBIA

Global innovators



The Atlas Copco brand promises sustainable productivity, off erring products, services and solutions which are more productive, lower cost and safer for the customer

Writer Emily Jarvis
Project Manager Eddie Clinton

Swedish giant Atlas Copco established themselves in Zambia in 1949 and have consequently been supporting the Zambian mining industry for over 60 years, with a staff size of 143 locally. As a world leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions, the company has evolved alongside the latest technological advances, delivering unparalleled levels of efficiency to the resources sector. the company's products range from compressed air and gas equipment to construction and mining equipment and industrial tool and assembly systems. Boasting a diverse product and services range, Atlas Copco Zambia provide end-to-end solutions for their customers and suppliers in Zambia and the DRC, including full aftermarket support to a number of mines and contractors. "As a triple certified organisation in Africa, we live and breathe our core values and our brand is what makes Atlas Copco such a prominent name in the mining industry," explains Daniel Banister, General Manager of Atlas Copco Zambia.

With businesses in more than 170 countries and a diverse group of employees, Atlas Copco are a truly global company, who continue on their way to success, securing the best mining solutions for their customers. Atlas Copco aim to provide complete end-to-end solutions to buyers and customers via their three core values of interaction, commitment and innovation. "These values form our past, created our present and will guide our future. Combine this with what we offer our employees: A caring culture, a change for individual responsibility through internal career possibilities and development opportunities; then you get an insight into what it is like to work for us and what makes our company stand strong," says Banister.

Recent Productivity Improvements
Most recently, Atlas Copco Zambia have refurbished their workshop in Chingola in order to increase productivity. These facilities are designed to handle component rebuilds and Banister is pleased with the result: "We have re-shuffled the layout and improved the productivity flow, investing heavily into tooling and equipment for training and also quality assurance in order to increase productivity. We believe this will add further value for our customers."

Atlas Copco always look to innovate, always striving to achieve more energy efficient products with less of a carbon footprint. The company do this through their research and development arm of operations. At the moment, they are looking at how we can become greener, mirroring current global trends. "A lot of innovations in our products come as a result of the interactions we have with our customers, to make improvements to existing equipment."

Industry Challenges
There are a number of economic indicators that dictate growth or a slowdown in the mining industry, which atlas Copco have to combat regularly. "The Zambian Kwacha lost 26 percent against the US dollar, reaching an 8 month low. Furthermore, as a result of the slowdown in China, the price of copper has been quite badly affected. Combined, these issues mean that foreign investors are starting to look elsewhere to get better and potentially safer investment opportunities," Banister comments, keen to highlight the impact these issues have on rising costs, which impact both atlas Copco and their customers. However, the company are doing their best to mitigate against the currency and other factors to ensure they remain cost efficient. "The mining industry is having a tough time right now, so we have to continue to try our best to provide sustainable solutions to our customers in order to give us a competitive edge."

Comprehensive in-house training
Atlas Copco Group have a fully-fl edged training policy that is rolled out across its countries of operation, in order for them to stay ahead of the game and nurture staff talents effectively. "Here in Zambia, we are exceeding the mandatory 45 hours of training, investing heavily in e-learning and technical courses in marketing, sales, administrative courses and so on. 70 percent of our training is given in the field, keeping staff abreast of changes in products and identifying local needs," Banister highlights. The Zambian operations partner with key training providers to develop a competent workforce, providing the opportunity for staff to develop their careers within the group.

"An effective supply chain is crucial for us"
Atlas Copco Zambia import the majority of the products they supply to the country and Banister sees this as a crucial part of their global business success: "Most of our imports come from Sweden, Belgium, US, China and Japan; therefore having an effective supply chain is crucial for us. Given the lead times, it is important for us to be able to forecast with customers and shareholders globally in order to enable a smooth supply chain." As Zambia is landlocked with several other countries, Banister recognises that it is important to maintain strong and healthy relationships across the borders: "We export to the DRC from our central warehouse in Zambia and there is often congestion at the border, so we have to make sure we not only include this possible downtime in the forecast to our customers, but also maintain strong relationships." As a triple-certified organisation, Atlas Copco Zambia conduct a supplier evaluation once a year in order to track areas for improvement. "With our key suppliers, we use this as a platform to highlight areas where we feel either party could improve, whether it be to do with relationships or the processes for a more effective supply chain."

SWHAP Wellness Program
Atlas Copco Zambia are part of a comprehensive wellness program called SWHAP (Swedish Workplace HIV/AIDS Program), which contributes to the response to HIV/AIDS. The Swedish initiative involves confidential screening, counselling and peer educators which Banister says is vital in the local community: "It is important for us to share this initiative with our customers, employees and their families through the SWHAP wellness program. The services are complementary and we have heavily invested in them in order to provide the best level of education and health to all."

Strong Company Culture
Atlas Copco's Zambian operations emulate a strong corporate identity and culture that encompasses their vision and successful people-management process. Banister believes that the focus on developing people within the organisation has been key to their success: "Good people are key to the success of any organisation. Without passionate people, we would not have the great product range we have today. Through our core values, it is important for us to ensure that we listen to our customers and interact with them. We have to be innovative not only in our products, but in the solutions we provide our customers today. We are not in an age where we can just sit back and sell a product, we now have to able to provide end-to-end solutions to buyers as well as end users, rather than just supplying a product."

The Atlas Copco brand promises sustainable productivity, offering products, services and solutions which are more productive, lower cost and safer for the customer; and when it comes to innovation they have a clear grasp of what it takes to be market leaders.

Last year, Atlas Copco Zambia won an award for image and quality from the Global Trade Leaders Club, held in Madrid, Spain 2013. Banister proudly told us that the company are extremely honoured to have won this internationally recognised award and hope to achieve greater things in 2014.