On February 21, 1873, Atlas was founded in Stockholm, Sweden, as a manufacturer of products for railways. Over 140 years later the company is an industry benchmark with world-leading positions in compressors, tools and rock drills, but also in many other product areas. Close cooperation with our customers, a constant drive to find a better way and commitment to keeping our promises have made Atlas Copco what it is today.
Over its 60 years in Australia and New Zealand Atlas Copco has enjoyed the loyalty of its staff and customers, this year marking the sale of the 100 th MT6020 minetruck demonstrates the innovation, interaction and commitment we have enjoyed in the market. Australian customers collaborated in the trucks initial development, and the testing and first sale were also on Australian soil. In 2012 Atlas Copco in Australia and New Zealand continues to move from strength to strength with orders approaching $1 billion and over 1000 employees across Australia and New Zealand. The range of products and services has also grown to cover industries including underground and open pit mining, construction, manufacturing, medical and rental fleets to name a few.
An Atlas Copco LHD 23-M handheld hydraulic rock drill was used underwater to drill 20 two metre cores into seagrass soils by Curtin University researchers. The study of these seagrass cores will reveal their role as a carbon and metal sinks and as archives of heavy metal pollution in Australian coasts across the millennia. Coring operations were assisted by scuba divers.
In 2009 Atlas Copco Construction Equipment Australia moved into its new head office at Powers Road, Seven Hills. This is the first time Dynapac and Atlas Copco Construction Tools were in the same office since the creation of the Atlas Copco Construction Equipment division in late 2008. The premises were officially opened on 20 November 2009 by the then President of Atlas Copco Road Construction Equipment, Claes Ahrengart.
The Götheborg is a replica of an 18th century Swedish sailing ship named East Indiaman and is the world’s largest operational wooden sailing ship. Atlas Copco was one of the companies that sponsored her inaugural journey which started from Gothenburg Harbour in Sweden on October 2005 and saw the ship travel through the waters around Spain, Brazil, South Africa and China before arriving in Fremantle 180 days into her journey. The 40.9 m wooden boat with a crew of 80 provided quite a buzz in WA, with large crowds queuing to tour the vessel. Atlas Copco held an open day for staff and their families as well as a spectacular evening for our customers, complete with Swedish opera diva Katarina Fallholm and fireworks from the surrounding buildings.
In April 2006, the whole of Australia watched when an earthquake triggered a rock fall trapping 17 miners underground in Tasmania’s Beaconsfield Gold Mine. The mine had been a longstanding customer of Atlas Copco and our Tasmanian team went into action to help in any way they could. 14 miners escaped immediately, one miner was killed and two remained nearly one kilometre underground for two weeks. Atlas Copco supplied the drill bits for the mine’s Boomer M2 D which drilled the development drive and also the drill bits for the communications probe hole to the miners. We also provided the hand held equipment needed for final breakthrough.
Visit of the Crown Princess Victoria for Swedish Style - The first Swedish Style in Australia took place in March 2005 and turned out to be a great success. An initiative of the Swedish Trade Council, of which Atlas Copco Australia is a member, a string of events was planned to promote contemporary Swedish design and Swedish companies. During two weeks in March, Swedish Style in Australia gave Melbourne and Sydney a blue and yellow glow. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden inaugurated the event and was the guest of honour at a Gala dinner organised by Atlas Copco and other companies at the Sydney Town Hall. In the same year a new purpose built Perth facility opened. Gunnar Brock, the Chairman of Atlas Copco Group and Karin Ehnbom-Palmquist Swedish Ambassador to Australia officiated at the opening in Perth.
Australia held its second Olympic Games as Atlas Copco celebrated 50 years in Australia with spectacular evenings around the country. The following year at another opening ceremony Atlas Copco was lauded as foundation sponsors of what was to become a great Australian icon, the Kalgoorlie Mining Hall of Fame.
1998 saw the official opening of Atlas Copco’s current headquarters at Blacktown. Performed jointly by the Swedish Ambassador Goran Hasselmark, and Chairman of Atlas Copco Brian Loton, the occasion saw the unveiling of a plaque, which coincidentally commemorated 125 years of Atlas Copco’s existence. At the time 600 staff were employed across Australia and New Zealand.
September 24, 1993, 4.00 am, those memorable words “The winner is Syd-en-nee” proclaimed Juan Antonio Samaranch declaring Australia’s bid to host the 2000 Olympics games a success. The forthcoming Olympics meant the city needed a spruce up and the 170,000 m2 of Harbour Bridge steel needed application of 10,000 litres of micaeceous oxide and rubber to prevent rust. LLA pneumatic hoists were used to position work platforms, grinders with built-in speed governors to remove existing paint, RRC percussion hammers to trim concrete and XAMS295 hired compressors supplied air for sand blasting. Elsewhere in Sydney a young boy dubbed “Bubble Boy” Jonathan Wilson-Fuller suffering a rare metabolic condition was delivered purified air via a 25 m hose connected to an LX115 compressor. The equipment and its maintenance was donated by Atlas Copco in 1996 and continues to this day.
In accordance with a change in global structure, Atlas Copco’s Australian company was restructured along major product lines, locally known as business areas. The new business areas created were Construction and Mining Technique (CMT), Compressor Technique (CT) and Industrial Technique (IT). A separate compressor and generator rental business area – Hire was added in 1995 and a construction equipment business area in 2008, combining the recently acquired Dynapac and Atlas Copco construction tool range. The 1990s marked the first publication of Atlas Copco Australia’s turnover ($91million) and profit after tax ($5 million) in the 1992 annual report.
During an archaeological dig on the coast of Victoria, a fragment of jaw bone was unearthed using Atlas Copco donated portable and stationary air and construction tools. The previously undiscovered dinosaur was named Atlascopcosaurus loadsi. The first part of the name Atlascopcosaurus, which means “Atlas Copco lizard” is a genus, the second part, “loadsi” is the species name and honours William Loads, the Atlas Copco state manager at the time, who assisted during the dig. Atlascopcosaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period about two to three metres (6.5–10 ft.) long and weighing roughly 125 kg. Atlas Copco supported the project for over 10 years which saw 60 metres of tunnel in the cliff wall excavated and 85 fossil bone fragments of various species found. A soft toy of the Atlascopcosaurus is now available.
“The Apprentice of the year” award was introduced for the best all-round apprentice and a green John Stanton made his first trip to Sydney to collect his prize. John is now regional manager for Tasmania. A year later and accompanying Sydney’s compressor biggest sale to date (seven ZR7 oilfree compressors to Eraring Power Station) saw the creation of one of Atlas Copco’s most memorable national advertising campaigns – the baby on the compressor. Nicky, the four month old baby son of the director of the advertising agency was placed sleeping on an operating, but oh so quiet Atlas Copco compressor. Nicky duly slept through the 70 dBa background noise for a full 15 minutes, the TV commercial being seen by an audience of 10 million viewers.
In 1976 in Broken Hill, Margaret Thatcher, then British Opposition leader and later to become the first British female Prime Minister, was dressed in white overalls, hard hat and other PPE of the day for an underground mine tour. The photo gives the impression of a seemingly sturdy Mrs Thatcher punching away with an Atlas Copco Panther rockdrill, just out of shot however, supporting the pusher-leg combination, was a sturdy miner. Early in the following year, Sydneysiders were in shock with the death of 83 people from the Granville train disaster, Atlas Copco assisted in the rescue with RH-series rock drills, a Darda rock-splitter and PRHS700 portable. The year also marked the sale of the 100th GA compressor. The 100th ZR compressor had been sold to canning company Containers Limited of Melbourne just two years prior.
Centenary Celebrations for Atlas Copco – In Sydney, Atlas Copco’s 100 years in business was commemorated by a staff ball at the then fashionable Sebel Town House in Kings Cross. The longest serving employee of the time, Lambert Forslund aptly using an Atlas Copco air saw to cut the 100 year birthday cake. That year Sydney’s Water Board had marvelled at the revolutionary new Mini- Fullfacer tunnel boring machine, which achieved advance rates four times faster than conventional drill and blast methods. While in Tasmania, Atlas Copco launched the State Rockdrilling Championships. In Mount Isa the breakthrough COP 1038 rockdrill commenced 18 months of testing by Hilton Mine; subsequently the unit was purchased and mounted on a Cavo 511 chassis. The unit was designated the Simba H221 and the rig had drilled more than 20,000 metres revolutionising underground drilling in the process.
In April 1970, Atlas Copco completed the move of its head office from Auburn to new purpose built premises in Blacktown. Over a four month period warehouse and supply followed by service and administrative staff completed the move. This was the first use of open plan office layout and won an architectural design award. The Prime Minister, William McMahon delivered a rousing opening speech at the inauguration and marked the occasion by air-powering (and misspelling) his name as “Willam” on a commemorating plaque. The other official guest Swedish Ambassador Per Anger pressed buttons to fire jets of compressed air shooting the Swedish and Australian flags to the top of their poles. The year also marked the biggest industrial compressor order - six low vibration oil-free ZR5 units to CIG.
In 1970 the Atlas Copco travelling bursary was created. Brisbane mining engineering student Rodney John Burston was the inaugural winner. Then a seven week tour for mining undergraduates, the “Atlas Copco Scholarship” as it is now known is hotly contested by elite mining undergraduates around the country and the AusIMM (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy) partners with Atlas Copco in the running of the award. 2012 winner Christopher Brunero will spend one week at a regional Atlas Copco branch in Australia and two weeks in Sweden with both Atlas Copco representatives and at customers’ sites.
Atlas Copco equipment was being used in the cutting edge of construction and at the pointy end of space research. Tunnelling of the new Kings Cross section of the Eastern Suburbs rail project was being assisted by Atlas Copco’s prototype Mini- Fullface tunnel borer while in another part of the country Dr Ray Stalker, a Physics Professor and researcher at Australian National University, was using Atlas Copco’s high pressure air in space vehicle testing. The power source was a BP3 stationary compressor linked to a high-velocity wind tunnel in which model spacecraft were tested. Dr Stalker later went on to be involved in the testing of the Scramjet.
In 1967, the new compressor silencing techniques and the Z-series oilfree compressors were launched in Belgium. Australia’s first Z-series compressor, a ZR4 was installed in January 1968 at Australian Pulp and Paper Manufacturers (APPM) in Burnie, Tasmania. 1968 also saw the first VT portable compressors produced in Australia.
ACE (Atlas Copco Equipment) Hire was formally registered to conduct business in Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. The successful NSW operation had already been running for several years. Air compressors and associated tools were rented to Australia’s burgeoning infrastructure industries.
The marketing of industrial air tools was given a boost by the commissioning of a demonstration van. The travelling van, a Mercedes 2-ton panel van, carried a wide range of tools, which with a versatile demonstration set-up allowed driver-demonstrator Clem “Silver” Nielsen to perform on virtually any site. In a three month tour that saw him travelling to NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, only flying home for weekends in Sydney “Silver” drove nearly 100,000 miles.
Atlas Copco’s product and services range continued to expand across all industries. With the introduction of Dentalair - air powered drill heads capable of revolutionary cutting speeds, belt-driven drills powered by electricity or even foot pedalling were left behind. The T2GH was unveiled at an exhibition in Melbourne; this loader was a precursor to the Cavo-remotecontrolled loaders, then Haggloaders and vastly more sophisticated Wagner
On the first of January 1956, Atlas Diesel changed its name to Atlas Copco - Copco was an abbreviation of the French “Companie Pneumatique Commerciale”. The name change coincided with intense industrial development in Australia with BHP Steel, Rod and Bar Products Division opening its Kwinana Mill and the resumption of oil exploration after a long hiatus due to the Second World War. This was also the beginning of Atlas Copco Australia’s interest in the nascent mining industry in Papua and New Guinea (now PNG), through dealer Hastings Deering Diesel.
By 1952, staff increased from 28 to 37 nationally, and with this came Atlas Copco’s first contract on the Snowy Mountains Scheme Tumut project through contractor Allied Constructions. This significant customer was joined by the Federal Department of Works and the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage board in Sydney, marking the increased confidence in Atlas Copco’s products in Australia. In 1953 Atlas Copco supplied rock drills and portable compressors to Kalgoorlie’s first rock drilling championships. The championships later spread to other regional mining areas in Australia and National Championships were first held at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1956. The Rockdrill Championships are now important regional events and are stronger than ever. Atlas Copco’s head office in Skarratt Street Auburn was also opened in 1953.
Atlas Copco’s main customers in the 1950s included the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, New South Wales Railways, Tasmanian Hydro Electric Commission, the Snowy Mountains Authority and mines in Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia. The first sales for the new company included 18 AR3 compressors to the State Electricity Commission of Victoria in September 1950, compressors and rock drills for the Snowy Mountains Scheme, 30 rock drills and drill steels in the Kalgoorlie region, plus an order for all of the 30 rock drills and steels needed in the construction of New Zealand’s Rimutake hydro-tunnel.
Atlas Copco’s first foray into the Australian market was through distributor, Hastings Deering. The first recorded sale in 1944 was a Monobloc C4DKV portable compressor which had solid tyres, no gates and started cartridge style. Petrol was still rationed until 1949 when Bengt Gibson a Swedish mining engineer, was sent to Australia to work with Harold Hastings Deering to set up a sales company. Atlas Diesel was registered as a company and Harold Hastings Deering appointed its Chairman in 1950. The first office was in Sydney’s Kings Cross. The Kalgoorlie branch opened later that year in a fibro cottage on Hare Street. Adelaide and Perth branches followed closely in 1952, Melbourne, Launceston and Brisbane in 1953 and other areas including Cooma, Darwin, Mount Isa, Tennant Creek and Broken Hill followed soon after.