1891-1916: Changing direction
Prior to the liquidation, Atlas management began a strategic shift towards producing more advanced products, such as steam engines and machine tools. At the turn of the century, however, about half of the company’s capacity was still devoted to producing railway cars. But during Atlas’s last years as an independent company (prior to 1917), the product mix changed.
The railway equipment era was coming to an end and production of rail cars stopped in 1911. Atlas began focusing on more promising market areas and started producing well-designed machine tools and steel belt pulleys.
Products with potential
Just before the start of World War I, Atlas entered into a new product area with great potential: compressed air machinery and compressors. It was actually Atlas’s own need for good pneumatic tools and machines that fuelled the interest and expertise with these products. On its own production line, pneumatic riveting and caulking hammers had become invaluable tools and the need soon arose for spare parts and replacements.
The highly competent craftsmen in the research workshop were given the task of producing copies of the original machines without blueprints to guide them. The tools were further developed through interactive collaboration between their users, designers and metalworkers. Word started to spread of their greater efficiency and reliability, creating a spontaneous demand from other major Swedish workshops.
As early as 1901, the first pneumatic riveting hammers and drills were officially introduced on the Atlas production line. Gustaf Ryd was the innovator of the first pneumatic hammers. In 1904 a piston compressor was launched, and in 1905, the first pneumatic rock drilling equipment was introduced. In 1910, Gustaf Andersson developed pneumatic chipping and riveting hammers with advanced design and a spool valve engine.
Gunnar Jacobsson became a member of the Board in 1901, and in 1909 he became new managing director of Atlas. He further expanded the pneumatic range with new tools and air compressors.