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Skellefteå robot company a global giant in its niche
Did you know that one of the world’s leading manufacturers of remote-controlled demolition robots is located in Skellefteå? With an 80% global market share, sales of SEK 1 billion and strong profitability, Brokk is a giant in its niche.
“We’re proud of our journey and about remaining in Skellefteå, where it all began,” says Joakim Furtenback, head of Brokk’s marketing department.
It all began with the demolition of a lead furnace at Rönnskärsverken in 1976. And since then the company has developed apace. By consistently investing in innovation and product development, Brokk has regularly identified new areas of application for its robots, which today are used by customers in several different industries, ranging from the construction industry and civil defense to demolition in metro systems and work in underground mines.
“We also have very creative customers. Many of them buy machines for one purpose, but then find other areas in which they can use them. This gives us more ideas as to where our products can be of benefit,” says Joakim.
The Skellefteå company’s robots have been involved in several huge international projects, which have attracted global attention. Ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup in Doha, Qatar, a new metro system has been constructed, with the help of Brokk’s products. The restoration of underground tunnels in New York after the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the rescue work in conjunction with the Fukushima disaster, are two examples of the use of Brokk’s remotely-controlled machines.
“A chartered plane from Luleå transported four robots directly from here to Fukushima. We were one of the companies which contributed to mitigating the consequences of the disaster,” says Joakim.
All important functions, such as marketing, purchasing, development and design are located at the headquarters in Skellefteå. 100 out of a total of 300 employees are also located there. Approximately 90% of production goes to export, assisted by 12 subsidiaries with their own sales staff and service technicians.
“We are proud to remain in Skellefteå. We have loyal staff who have been with us a long time and we highly value their skills. We also collaborate with several local entrepreneurs from whom we purchase components and globally it is a strong selling point to have a product from northern Sweden,” says Joakim.
Brokk has long been one of a small number of companies in its niche, but competition has been increasing since the end of the 2000s. The Skellefteå company has countered this by stepping up production development even further. In the spring of 2018 Brokk carried out its largest product launch to date with four entirely new machines.
“We’ve never been more active than in the past 10 years. We are investing strongly in everything from more efficient assembly to sales and product development, and we need to employ even more people,” says Joakim.
SKELLEFTEÅ – AN EXOTIC PLACE
Ahead of its recent product launch, Brokk invited its distributors and subsidiaries to a conference in Skellefteå, in which 75 people from 35 countries participated.
“They regard Skellefteå as somewhere exotic and many of our customers and cooperation partners also come here privately. They appreciate the calm, the natural surroundings and the fresh air. We have visitors who get up early in the morning just to be able to take a walk along the river. We have been good at selling Skellefteå as a brand,” says Joakim.
Three examples of the use of BROKK’S machines:
After the Fukushima disaster
The machines were used to clear the roads to one of the reactors so that it was possible to gain access and install cooling equipment, thereby preventing meltdown.
After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center
After the World Trade Center towers had collapsed, several Brokk machines were used to repair damaged tunnels beneath New York City.
Sculpting the Crazy Horse Memorial
In South Dakota, USA, work is taking place on sculpting a memorial called ‘Crazy Horse’. The completed memorial will represent an American Indian on a horse and will be 195 m long and 172 m high. Various Brokk machines are being used to produce this sculpture.