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02 July 2020

Mobile power equipment specialist, Atlas Copco Power Technique, has been seamlessly delivering critical services to keep Southern Africa’s mining and industry rolling since lockdown came into effect at midnight on 26 March 2020.

“We have empathy with our customers and dealers and we understand that they face individual challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” comments Atlas Copco Power Technique Business Line Manager, Portable Products, David Stanford. “We applied for an essential services certificate to enable us to support those essential services customers with whatever they need, whether repairs, maintenance, equipment or spares, in order to keep their plants operational.”

Collaboration, technology and robust processes

According to Stanford, the ability to walk the talk hinges on the adaptability of Atlas Copco and its employees as well as on continued collaboration with dealers. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has reinforced the value of online platforms as the number one way to keep in touch with customers and conduct business sustainably. “So step one was to make sure that all our internal processes and remote communication platforms were solid and functioning properly. The next step is about making full use of the technology at our fingertips, from online customer and dealer meetings to quick turnaround times between RFQ and delivery. We moved our business online a few years ago and are au fait with these platforms and technologies. Subsequently, little change was required on our part and our systems and processes are proving to be extremely robust and reliable.”

The third step was to identify how customers are functioning at this time and to ensure that the Power Technique team complies with their methodologies. “Again our flexibility enables us to adapt to differing customer needs,” notes Stanford. The Power Technique after-market team has been fully equipped with everything they need to go out into the field to assist customers with service, repairs and maintenance jobs to keep their businesses operational. This includes issuing technicians with correct permits and adhering to all health regulations – wearing face masks, using hand sanitiser and practising social distancing – in the interest of both employees as well as customers.

Stanford points out that in this extremely challenging market, there are many aspects that are beyond their control such as what projects will go ahead or will remain in the pipeline. So the team is focussing on areas that are in their control. “Stock for example,” says Stanford. “We are making sure that we keep on top of it.” He explains that while their containers were locked down at the port for six weeks, they made sure that all necessary paper work and documentation were in order to avoid any unnecessary delays.

“Once the ports were opened in early May, our supply chain kicked into action; by the second week our containers reached our Johannesburg head office and by the end of May our customers received their products, parts and spares, ensuring minimal disruption to their operations. We are also ready to supply sectors like construction that opened up when lockdown restrictions were eased.”  

Regional dealers

Another important focus area is Atlas Copco’s regional dealer network in South Africa as well as in the DRC, Madagascar and Mauritius. “Our dealers have run into a number of issues trying to get onto site to perform critical repairs and we are working with them continuously to maximize our customer service.” Stanford adds that regular online communication has further strengthened their solid dealer relationships. “Keeping communication channels open and staying in touch from our respective homes during the early strict lockdown period has brought the Atlas Copco and dealer family closer together as we continue to join forces to assist our customers during these unprecedented times.”  “Despite the challenges faced by Atlas Copco in adjusting to a new way of doing business and going completely online, we will continue to work with our staff, customers and dealers to ensure that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are minimised. This keeps us in a position to continue supplying our world-class mobile compressors, generators, light towers and pumps, backed by services and after-market support, to our customers for the sustainable operation of their plants,” concludes Stanford

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