Lasting Relationships in a Challenging Market
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Eddie Clinton
Having supported the mining and related industries in Zambia for more than 60 years, Atlas Copco has remained true to its Group ethos of providing innovative products, services and solutions that encourage sustainable productivity for a cost-effective price.
Leveraging its internationally-renowned status to keep abreast of the latest technological advances, the Company recently released its free underground app in Zambia, providing extensive access to the Group’s vast range of drilling consumables, mining & rock excavation equipment, compressors and information on related aftermarket support and services to an array of longstanding customers.
With innovation representing one of Atlas Copco’s core values, the app is a powerful tool for daily business use that can be delivered through tablet or smartphone, while boosting efficiencies of sales teams on the ground.
The Company’s deep-rooted influence in Zambia has, in recent years, been affected by economic, industry and regional challenges, the need to react to market changes quickly remains key to standing out from otherwise saturated market conditions.
Atlas Copco Zambia’s Former Regional General Manager (GM), Daniel Banister explained previously: “Back in 2014, we had to address our internal inefficiencies to adapt to the current levels of business in the region.
“There was a significant drop over the past two years in Zambia in regards to customers purchasing equipment, but a strong focus on the aftermarket services side. We therefore looked at our organisation and how it needed to adapt to fit this level of business.”
By the end of 2014, Banister and his team had achieved this diversification, and the same flexible emphasis is now being placed on further business progression in 2015.
“We are very much results-driven and committed to that culture, making sure we not only tackle our own inefficiencies but work with our customers; providing them with solutions to make the whole supply chain more cost-effective in times like this,” he continued.
Customer is key
This collaborative effort between service provider and customer is one that has been significant to Atlas Copco’s development in Zambia over the years, ensuring that the Company’s core values of interaction, commitment and innovation serve the diverse needs of its customers; facilitating the development of new and improved solutions released on a continual basis.
The need to find these differentiators is even more prominent given the saturation of the market in a copper-reliant country like Zambia. In order to do this, Atlas Copco has placed a strong emphasis on strengthening its service offering over the past four years to give it a competitive edge; including the provision of an upgrade to its training facilities in Chingola.
The training centre incorporates specific simulators for underground drilling, while new component testing equipment was also introduced at the start of 2015. Again, all of these investments were made with the end customer in mind.
In Zambia, the Company is proud to be exceeding the mandatory 45 hours of training; investing heavily in staff progression via elearning and technical courses spanning all facets of the business including marketing, sales, administration and other key positions. Moreover, 70 percent of training is delivered “in the field”, which helps develop a product understanding that is locally relevant.
Health & safety is a core facet of Atlas Copco’s continuous improvement strategy being embedded in all new initiatives and products, with it consequently being a major selling point in attaining new business.
Banister added: “Our new SmartROC D65 surface drill has been trialled with one of our customers at their mining site, using a higher level of automation to enable safer and more cost efficient operations, and this has been extremely well received.”
Similarly, all of the Company’s equipment is designed and manufactured with the highest levels of safety in mind, and this philosophy begins within the production process itself and is ingrained in its workforce.
“We aim to offer a very safe and healthy working environment here in Zambia. This runs throughout Atlas Copco, where we measure the number of incidents and accidents as a Group and actively seek to ensure that these numbers are reduced over time,” Banister commented.
Daily reviews of previous incidents and accidents culminate in action plans being drawn up to improve the working conditions moving forward, again epitomising the vigilance of the business when it comes to maintaining best practices across the board; including the same commitment to areas of corporate social responsibility.
From an internal perspective, Atlas Copco Zambia has struck a healthy balance between instilling a local emphasis into its workforce and leveraging an international supply chain.
Throughout it all though, the business has maintained its entrepreneurship; most recently restructuring its workforce to redistribute personnel who would be better suited within its supply chain rather than directly working for the Company itself. Not only has this strategy kept important personnel in employment, but it has also spread the Atlas Copco ethos directly into the value chain.
With a new Acting General Manager at the helm, Atlas Copco Zambia is to continue building lasting relationships with its customers, while developing the most relevant and innovative solutions that stand the Company head and shoulders above the competition.