The Business Year

Björn Tisell

COLOMBIA - Energy & Mining

Björn Tisell

General Manager CVCA Region, Epiroc

Bio

Bjorn is from Sweden and he has a wide experience in mining and construction, in the last 10 years he has served in various roles at Epiroc, especially in Latin America. In 2018 he assumed his current position as General Manager for the Epiroc CVCA region, the region covers Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, the Caribbean, Guyana & Suriname. Previously, he worked as Regional Manager of the Underground division, Epiroc’s business line specializing in automation, interoperability and digitalization of mining in underground applications. 

“We take pride in leading the mining and infrastructure industries in becoming more intelligent, efficient, and sustainable."“

What are Epiroc’s distinguishing characteristics as a mining and infrastructure technology provider? How do Colombian operators benefit from choosing Epiroc?

We take pride in leading the mining and infrastructure industries in becoming more intelligent, efficient, and sustainable. When our customers evaluate suppliers, they strive to improve productivity and lower the total cost of ownership while also improving sustainability performance. Our innovation leadership in areas such as automation, digitalization and electrification in combination with a strong record of accomplishment of quality and reliability is highly valued.

What areas of the mining cycle are at the center of Epiroc’s distribution strategy in the region?

In the coming years, the expected increase in production of commodities such as gold, copper, platinum and nickel is expected to support the demand for Epiroc’s products and services. The increased extraction of ore should increase demand for new equipment as well as for consumables, maintenance, refurbishment and overhaul; collectively known as the mining aftermarket. The aftermarket potential depends on total fleet of equipment in operation as well as on equipment utilizations levels. The equipment is frequently used in harsh environments, which drives the need for maintenance and replacement of parts and consumables. Higher utilizations also drive the need for maintenance and replacement of equipment to safeguard productivity. The aftermarket needs tend to be recurring and relatively stable trough the business cycle, and generally less discretionary than capital expenditure on equipment.

How do you approach market prospecting and where do you see business opportunities?

We have now a presence of 36 years in Colombia and 149 years of history in Epiroc worldwide, our mining customers are often large with several productions sites but there are also customers with only one worksite. Sometimes mining companies use contractors for mine development, production and/or exploration. Mining customers extracting gold and cooper represent a large portion of our revenue exposure. Within infrastructure, we have a more diverse customer base, with both large global players and small customers, for example, contractors that own only one machine or hydraulic attachment. Rental companies are also customers. Colombia, Central America, the Caribbean, Surinam and Guayana, the region that we named Epiroc CVCA and that we are responsible from Colombia, is a market with a lot of potential in mining and infrastructure in the long term, our aim is to focus on developing these markets as specialized partner able to provide an integral support for machine, service and tools with a high level of technology, automation and technical support. 

What is the importance of partnerships for Epiroc and what principles guide Epiroc’s role within the regional mining and industry ecosystems?

We collaborate with different stakeholders to accomplish our value chain purpose, in our region we cover 13 countries and we have to ensure a close relationship and support, in that direction, in some of these countries we have business partners which with same service level and customer focus vision. Being a leading global supplier in our niches comes with a responsibility. Because of that one focus areas within sustainability is to live by the highest ethical standards which also aim for when it comes to our sales generation. Collaboration and commitment are keys.

What processes and technologies is Epiroc focused on to reduce emissions and energy use?

We are leading the charge towards sustainability in mining through battery electric, zero-emission equipment. Our electrification solutions are well proven globally and contribute to substantial reduction of CO2 emissions, leading to a smaller environmental footprint. Battery – electric vehicles improve workplace health, reduce emissions and lower ventilation cost and as we provide the full service of battery that eliminates the risk if owning batteries, this is also about circular economy. We have high ambitious environmentals goals to achieve until 2030 that including reduction of 50% of C02 emissions from operations, transport and well as from customer use of Epiroc equipment. Related safety we want to have zero injuries, right now we are finishing implementation of the global standard Safestart, which helps to increase safety awareness and reduce human errors that lead to injuries together with Live Work Elimination Program, to ensure safety when designing the equipment; we create solutions that remove people from being exposed to the risk of hazardous energy. Diversity is another strong goal for us. In our region, we are very proud of having today a balanced management team with 45% women and 55% men. Nevertheless, we still have a lot of work to do in order to reach a more balanced total workforce in CVCA region since today we have 34% women, we see huge opportunities in our local market to involve more women at the operational levels in positions like product managers, services managers and workshop and field service technicians.

How is Epiroc leveraging digitalization and the internet of things to improve efficiency and reduce risk?

Our main three focus of innovation are the digitalization, automation and the electrification. Our intention is to bring solutions that will improve productivity and safety. Digitalization offers much potential both for customers and for us. For example, connectivity to locate machines and people in a mine, tele-remote steering of equipment, and fully autonomous solutions. Digitalization enables an operation and especially an underground mine, to be more pro-active and to plan for maintenance. When the fleet is connected through technology, and there is a problem, the fleet manager will know well in advance that a failure is about to happen, and he can deal with it immediately. Digitalization means that we can transform a fleet of different equipment and optimize that system. Once there is transparency underground, it is possible to identify bottlenecks, and through a systematic approach based on data and real time information, make a decision that will benefit the entire operation. That is the solution we bring to the industry, we call it the 6th Sense solution. We assist our customers in digitizing their mines but also build on existing systems, as it is not always possible to suddenly change a whole operation.

What impact does Epiroc have in the region through knowledge transfer and through the dissemination of global best practices?

We collaborate with several equipment and service providers, technology companies and universities to drive further innovations in the industry. Examples of collaboration are with Ericsson for 5G technology, Orica for a semi-automated explosives delivery system, ABB for electric drive trains, Northvol for batteries and Saab Combitech. For information management systems. We are also engaged in the projects European Sustainable intelligent mining Systems, (SIMS) and sustainable underground mining (SUM). The SIMS project was a successful EU project within the research and innovation program Horizon2020, SIMS spanned from May 2nd 2017 to April 30th 2020. The vision was: To create a long lasting impact on the way we test and demonstrate new technology and solutions for the mining industry. With a selected consortium ranging from mining companies, equipment and system suppliers to top-class universities, the SIMS project will boost development and innovation through joint activities aiming at creating Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems. SUM: The testbed, SUM, Sustainable Underground Mining, will be created in LKAB’s underground mines in Kiruna and Malmberget and will also take the form of a virtual mine. Here, new technology will be developed and tested in a real mining environment to ensure that the Swedish mining industry can remain competitive and create jobs and growth, both locally in Norrbotten and nationally. This requires new control systems, new and improved mining equipment, as well as complex and efficient management systems that meet future demands for a sustainable industry. Reaching that goal will demand a new type of collaboration, a digital ecosystem in which the partners’ digital systems and operations are linked.

Where would you like to see Epiroc in the mid and long-term future and what steps are necessary within that evolution?

We know that our customers have many challenges. Epiroc will be the enabler in providing solutions to overcome these challenges and lead the transition towards sustainable mining and infrastructure. To offer best in class solutions – with automation – digitalization and electrification – and always being close to our customers, we will further strengthen the relationships with our customers and make Epiroc stronger. We dare to think new. We want Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean being part of this transformation. The CVCA region has several projects with the potential to become mines and infrastructure world class in sustainability.

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