New by name but by tradition an old acquaintance

Formerly it was called Rammer, and everyone in the industry knows the company, at least by name. Also by products it is a household name all over the world and truly one of the leaders in the breaking and demolition businesses. This year the Finnish company will be 30 years old. During this relatively short period the firm has grown into to a worldwide company.No matter how many changes Rammer experienced during the first three decades, there is much more to come. “We have just finished the changeover from the old Rammer to the new Sandvik Breakers, but we expect to see more changes in the coming years, not in the company structure, but in the markets and our product offering,” says Sandvik Breakers Marketing Director Teemu Teelahti.

Sandvik’s breaker sales are currently concentrated in the Western world. Europe and North America make 70% of sales and the remaining 30% is divided in smaller amounts in the rest of world. However, Teemu Teelahti predicts a huge and dramatic change in this market division. “Our view is that in 10 to 15 years the above percentage figures have been changed vice versa. The centre of gravity in the change is in Asia and naturally most strongly in India and China. Fortunately we belong to a global organization and can adjust our operations to changing demands. In the next five years we will experience a lot of related changes,” says Teemu Teelahti.

Demolition bound to grow

“Our view is that the biggest growth in the future in these businesses is offered in demolition. There just the surface has been scratched and there is indeed a lot to do. The number of buildings in developing countries and old infrastructures in the developed world only wait for demolition and rebuilding,” adds Teemu Teelahti. Sandvik Breakers is ready for the expansion. Initially the company only manufactured hydraulic breakers, but added demolition tools in the product range in the early part of 1990’s.

“This was a good decision since the demolition tools business has grown relatively more than the breaker business. We really don’t see any clouds in the near future and expect all our businesses to grow. The need of our type of equipment continues practically taken in every corner of the world, while the best Sandvik breaker countries are the traditional European ones like France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, and the USA in North America,” says Teemu Teelahti. “In 2007 Rammer sales doubled in France. Spain has been a good market but right now it is question mark. Italy is still doing fine as is the UK also although it seems that the peak has been passed in Britain. Europe and the US continue as our best regions. For instance, the US economy is sliding, but we were able to increase our market share there. Also Russia is now a significant market for us.”

Tied global competition

The present Sandvik Breakers is one of the two leaders in global markets. The other is the Swedish company Atlas Copco.

“It really is quite remarkable that in many areas of machines, particularly in rock drilling and breaking, the competition is geared around companies located in Finland and Sweden. Naturally, when we belong to Sandvik, the owner is Swedish, but since Sandvik Breakers was originally a Finnish company and today is located in Finland, we regard ourselves a Finnish manufacturer rather than a Swedish one. The same type of competition takes place in drilling machines, where Sandvik and Atlas Copco are the main rivals, but in drilling too, the Sandvik base is Finnish because it is located in Finland and used to be called Tamrock,” says Teemu Teelahti.

“In breakers and demolition tools we and Atlas Copco are the two big ones and of about equal size, while Montabert and Furukawa belong to the next category. But as all in the business know, there are many, many other smaller manufacturers all over the world, particularly in Italy, Japan and Korea. Probably no one has calculated the accurate number of breaker and demolition tool manufacturers, but the general estimate is that there are between 60 and 100 manufacturers in the world. In Italy alone, there are 14 manufacturers. Smaller manufacturers come and go. The competition is fierce and unfortunately the situation results in too low prices. However, I am pretty sure that already in the near future, some smaller players will disappear. When Rammer was established in 1978, hydraulic breakers were just emerging new pieces of machinery in the world, because only the first steps had been taken after quite many years of pneumatic hand tools. Hydraulics proved to be the key in the development of new breakers, which today are the really efficient way to improve the demolition and rock-related operations. Today, hydraulic breakers and all sorts of demolition tools are an integral part of construction, mining and quarrying, and demolition sites. We have accomplished a lot and will continue to do so.”

Natural background a key factor to success

The company’s success has always been based on the two key elements of product development and quality.

“It is fortunate that we are located in a Northern country where the natural conditions are difficult. When a piece of machinery works here, it works everywhere else. Finland also has solid bedrock of granite and other types of hard rock with low overburden, which gives us another good base for developing the machines to do the job in extremely hard rock,” says Teemu Teelahti.

A further advantage of the location is the small size of the country. To grow and to be successful the company needed to invest in export from the beginning, and that is what Rammer has done from the start. The company, which has 210 employees, has always been located in Lahti in the South of Finland. There are now two separate factory buildings, one for breakers and the other for demolition tools.

The wide range becoming wider

All sorts of construction projects make 80% of Sandvik Breakers’ sales and the rest is divided between mining, quarrying, demolition and recycling. Sandvik Breakers has always been in the forefront of technical development and has
brought to the market many innovations.

The company’s current range of hydraulic breakers is as large as can be expected from the leading manufacturer. The breaker range is next to complete, but in demolition tools the product offering is incomplete. “We know that in tools we need more products, but as this business is expanding we will naturally enlarge our offering and bring new machines to the market,” says Teemu Teelahti.

Innovations bring success

Right from the beginning of Rammer the breaker manufacturer has been in the forefront of technical development.

There has been quite a few firsts that later have become industry standards when the competition has adopted them. These innovative solutions include such cases as the world’s largest hammer manufactured in 1981, the innovative low-noise City Series introduced in 1991, and the in-Series of 2004.

It all started with the first Rammer hammer. It was made so well that there were no teething problems and was ready to market right away. “Quality is the other cornerstone of our operation. We cannot be satisfied with compromises. Good quality also makes our after-sales actions easier and naturally results in satisfied customers,” says Teemu Teelahti. A recent example is a heat treatment plant erected two years ago. The plant is the largest such installation in Finland.

“Our position is also favourable in that being a part of Sandvik means that we have a solid base. The ups and downs of business affect us only a little, but we are able to continue business as usual,” adds Teemu Teelahti.

Customer support

Sandvik Breakers has introduced quite a few solutions to make the use of products more economic and safe in the short and long term. They include the monitoring analyser system Ramona and the automatic lubrication system Ramlube.

For customer support there are three central warehouses located in Finland, Holland and Singapore, eight further regional warehouses and 300 local warehouses.

The short history of Rammer

To some extent Rammer shares its early history with Tamrock. Rammer’s founding father was Teuvo Grönfors who had previously been the research and development manager of Tamrock. He left Tamrock in 1972 and established Rammer in 1978. At that time it was obvious that hydraulic hammers (breakers) were the right way to break rock and concrete.

The first hydraulic hammer had been introduced by the French company Montabert in 1969, but at the time when Rammer started the biggest manufacturer was the German company Krupp.
Soon Rammer penetrated the market with its own products. But to become a world class player, the company required more resources than Teuvo Grönfors was able to offer on his own and he sold Rammer in 1984 to the Finnish mining company Outokumpu, with a plan to invest in mining and construction related equipment manufacturing.

Teuvo Grönfors continued heading the Outokumpu manufacturing division and in 1984 Outokumpu acquired Roxon, a manufacturer of jaw crushers and conveyors based in a community next to Lahti. But later Outokumpu changed its strategy and sold Rammer and Roxon to Tamrock in 1997, which at that time was owned by Sandvik.

As reported by

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