“Our millennials are driving the digitization process”

Published 22/11, 2019 at 10:14

Husqvarna’s Henric Andersson recently explained that the company launched a series of new products at bauma this year, several of them PDi has already written about.

Henric provided a quick overview of the releases, mentioning the new wet cutting blades Z Edge, which the company has invested in heavily in order to increase productivity. He also pointed out the new battery powered cutting machine K 535i, for which much attention has been paid. “We are only at the beginning of the battery powered venture, and here much more will happen in the future I can assure you. Effective development work is ongoing, and we have a close and long collaboration with our Husqvarna Forest & Garden colleagues and direct battery producing companies,” says Henric.

As part of its product development, Husqvarna is continuously working on ways to improve the relationship between weight and effect. A special blade has also been developed for the K 535i, with a focus on lower energy consumption and noise. The K 770 Vac is also a new addition that has previously been mentioned; this effectively takes care of dust, as is easy to integrate with a vacuum cleaner. The product is predicted to become very popular in the Japanese market. Also new is the K 770 Dry Cut with a dust collecting bag directly adjacent to the power cutter that takes care of any dust. This product is also predicted to become very popular in Japan.

With the acquisition of Atlas Copco's lightweight construction machinery, however, Husqvarna has taken a direction away from the product segments with which it is most closely associated. More specifically, Husqvarna bought Atlas Copco's series of packing machines, trowels and glazers and concrete processing equipment. Henric Andersson is convinced that this was the right investment to provide a total solution from compacting soil to a finished, polished concrete floor. “The new steps we have taken within Husqvarna have been preceded by a carefully crafted global study that started already in 2015. The purpose of the study was to find the most attractive market segments in different regions. With the new products we can increase our presence in, among other things, rental. In addition, we want to increase our market share in emerging regions and countries such as Africa, India and South America.” Henric added  that now about two thirds of the company's new construction products are sold purely for the rental market.

Continuing, Henric also stated that Husqvarna's series of trowels, in certain conditions, can provide an alternative method to grinding and polishing concrete floors. This has seen Husqvarna’s HiperTrowel system now being able to be fitted with diamond pads that create a smooth and semi polished flooring surface. Husqvarna's trowels are currently ‘walk behind’ and not the type for riding on. With regard to Husqvarna's packing machinery, the new articulated trench compactor LP 9505 was developed in house after the acquisition of the Atlas Copco line.

The so called ‘bread and butter segments’ have not been forgotten about, namely Husqvarna’s concrete cutting machines, diamond tools, demolition robots and floor grinding and polishing machines. Here Husqvarna now takes a holistic approach, and has built up a whole new platform that is not only about the tools and machines, but also the ‘softer’ values. Husqvarna Fleet Services allow customers through a subscription model to better manage their machine fleet. This is to increase the utilisation rate, maximise operating time and offer guidelines for safety and efficiency.

The system operates with the dealer equipping the machine with sensors that record the machine's operating parameters, with electronic identity cards being available for the users of the machines. The cards are paired with the machine sensors automatically and wirelessly, with the reseller registering the customer's machines on their management website, with the customer receiving login information. The customer gets a base station, which is connected to the internet; when the base station, or a cell phone, is within 20m-30m of the sensors, usage data is uploaded wirelessly to the customer's own pages in the database. There they are transformed into user friendly and accurate information on the machine's operating time, productivity and time for the next service.

Husqvarna Fleet Services is part of the new Husqvarna UpServices umbrella, which is divided into UpCare, UpFund and UpGuide. UpCare is a service contract between Husqvarna and the customer, UpFund stands for financing solutions and UpGuide covers user guides for Husqvarna's various machines such as demolition robots, cutting machines, dust and slurry handling and so forth. Also new for Husqvarna's series of diamond tools is the Diamond Tool Selector, which helps the customer choose the right diamond tool for the job.

Following Husqvarna’s acquisition of HTC, a new platform for single disc machines has been launched for grinding, polishing and maintenance of concrete floors. “As our product range on the concrete floor side has become so extensive, we have made a fairly clear distinction between the Husqvarna machines and HTC. We are investing into the HTC brand as it is very strong in most markets,” says Henric. To some extent it is also the same case with the dust and slurry extractors and air cleaners from Pullman Ermator, with the brand being very strong in Scandinavia and the U.S.

When asked if there are plans for additional sizes of demolition robots, Henric is a bit more uncertain. He believes that today's model range pretty much covers customers’ needs in construction where the main focus of the company is placed. “However, if we decide to focus harder on the industrial sector, larger machines are needed,” says Henric. "We are globally growing well within the construction segment for demolition robots.”

It is noticeable that Henric Andersson has a slightly a different management strategy to his predecessor Anders Ströby. If he didn’t, it would of course be strange. “We work differently today, but the basic structure and overarching direction itself is unchanged. However, we have made a slightly different breakdown of the products. Today, there are three product groups within the company and there are different people within each group. No direct overlap that makes it difficult to keep track of everything. The staff in each group are very focused on a customer segment and the associated products. The aftermarket has become a separate business area, which is important for us and the customer. In this lies an added value for the customer, which is an important investment in retaining customers,” explains Henric.

Finally, Henric points out what is perhaps the most important link in the new Husqvarna, digitalisation, which along with customer value are two very important parts of meeting the future and the current needs of customers. “Many of our corporate customers are in a generation shift. Many of the active companies today were started in the 1960s and 1970s. It is perhaps both the second and third generation who work in the companies and who will take over them. Many are so called ‘millennials’, those born around 2000, who take the increased digitalisation for granted. As a manufacturer, we must meet their digitalisation needs in terms of information, handling and efficiency. I would like to go so far as to say that we, as a manufacturer, have a responsibility to meet this group's demands. We have to make it attractive to work in demolition, concrete cutting, floor grinding and polishing, construction work and more, and then increased digitization is the right way forward,” concludes Henric Andersson.

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