Atlas Copco celebrates 150 years, unveils new compressor promising 60 percent energy savings

Swedish Ambassador to Kenya, Her Excellency Caroline Vicini (centre), during the unveiling of Atlas Copco’s improved VSDs compressor in Nairobi on March 24, 2023. With her are Atlas Copco East and Central Africa CEO Raphael Kiandiko (left), and the company’s Business Line Manager for compressors, Mr Daniel Karimi.

Photo credit: Atlas Copco

By Evans Ongwae

Atlas Copco has celebrated 150 years of innovations in style. On Friday, March 24, 2023, the company brought together major stakeholders to witness the launch of its two latest compressor innovations. The event took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi.

Atlas Copco East and Central Africa CEO Raphael Kiandiko, says they were delighted to launch the firm’s improved VSDs compressor that boasts 60 percent energy savings.

Atlas Copco also launched its E-Air portable compressors used by the construction industry. These compressors use electricity instead of an engine, a clean form of energy. This, explains Mr Kiandiko, is in line with the global sustainability agenda.

Among the dignitaries who witnessed the launch of these products as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations were the Swedish Ambassador to Kenya, Her Excellency Caroline Vicini; the firm’s customers; members of the Swedish Business Council; and officials from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), the Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK), and the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK).

Amb Vicini congratulated Atlas Copco for its achievements and lauded the innovativeness of Swedish firms.

The two products launched at the event continue Atlas Copco’s rich heritage of innovations dating back to 1873 when the firm was founded in Stockholm, Sweden. “Atlas Copco has been responsible for plenty of innovations…. A lot has happened during the 150 years,” Mr Kiandiko stresses as he outlines the events.

After starting with support for railways, Atlas Copco moved to the manufacturing of compressors. In the 1960s, the company innovated a new compressor technology. Then in the 1990s, it introduced variable speed compressors, which would adjust the running speed based on demand, and in the process save energy by up to 35 percent.

In 2013, the firm launched variable speed compressor Plus, which offered significant energy savings of 50 percent. This is the product it further improved and was one of those launched during the anniversary celebrations on March 24.

Atlas Copco spends three to five percent of its global revenues on research and innovation.

The company began its business in Kenya in 1936 under the name Craelius, and was involved in borehole drilling during those early days. It offered these services in Uganda and Tanzania as well.

Following a change of business strategy, in 1960, it decamped from Uganda and Tanzania to focus on Kenya. A decade later, the company shifted to industrial products and services.

In the 1990s, it re-established the Tanzania business and later expanded to Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Currently, the company serves a good part of Sub-Saharan Africa through operations based in 15 countries that now also include the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, Eritrea, Rwanda, Djibouti, Somalia, Burundi, and South Sudan.

The firm’s regional headquarters is in Nairobi. It has another office in Zambia, and works with partners in the other African nations.

Mr Kiandiko says customers in the manufacturing and construction industries value Atlas Copco compressors. “They are happy using our products and services,” he says, adding that Atlas Copco has served some firms since they were established, and has seen them “grow into big companies”.

The Atlas Copco regional CEO says the firm basically supports industrialisation, as its products “are used everywhere”, from diverse factories to mining sites.

Today, Atlas Copco Eastern Africa is well known as a market leader in the region for industrial compressors. “We provide a wide range of compressed air solutions to suit various industry needs, such as oil-free air compressors for the pharmaceutical, food and beverage industries; and medical air where clean, dry and oil-free air is needed. We also provide quality air accessories, industrial power tools, and digital monitoring tools.”

He adds: “In the construction segment, Atlas Copco is a dominant player. Our construction equipment has been widely used in rolling out the fibre-optic network and water well drilling in Kenya. Contractors prefer Atlas Copco as their ideal provider of portable energy, pumps, and drilling tools.”

Mr Kiandiko further points out: “The purpose of our company is to empower our customers to grow and drive society forward, and this is how we create a better tomorrow.”

Mr Kiandiko attributes the firm’s competitive advantage in the region to its innovativeness, and, above all, its skilled, well-qualified and extensively trained staff.

“We invest a lot in training our people as they are the ones who fuel the company’s innovations,” he explains, and adds: “We consider ourselves as an innovative company and the home of industrial ideas.”

Making a promise to the firm’s customers, Mr Kiandiko states: “We’re going to focus on a better tomorrow. We are digitising our equipment so as to communicate with their equipment over the Internet. That way, we can resolve client problems remotely, and also be able to look at and monitor the equipment.” This, he reckons, will give customers even more value.


For further information on Atlas Copco’s solutions, call the firm’s engineers at 0206605000, or email [email protected]. You will be able to know more about Atlas Copco’s products and solutions, and even trade in older compressors for new energy-saving ones.