The Swedish company Steelwrist worked with Nopef to take their ingenious “wrist” for excavators to three international markets.
Imagine life without a wrist. We could still perform our daily activities, but they would be slower and more awkward. Many excavators are exactly like that: the bucket has limited movement at the end of the boom. The aptly named Swedish company Steelwrist has an ingenious solution and approached the Nordic Project Fund (Nopef) to take their ideas around the globe.
“It was really good timing to work with Nopef,” says Erik Hedenryd, Group CFO, Steelwrist. “We were getting more and more contacts from different countries and it was time to expand. Nopef funding allowed us to speed up our expansion.”
Steelwrist has a large catalogue of accessories and attachments for excavators, but one of their most popular is a tiltrotator. A tiltrotator is attached at the end of an excavator’s arm much like a wrist, allowing the bucket to tilt 45 degrees and rotate 360 degrees. This gives the operator added flexibility and precision.
“This allows the operator to not only do his work easier and more efficiently, but he can even use the machine in new types of work,” Hedenryd says. “You can replace other machines with the improved excavator.”
A tiltrotator can increase productivity by about 30 per cent. This has a direct impact on the environment: if you can do a job 30 per cent faster you will use 30 per cent less fuel and have 30 per cent less emissions.
“It really is a game changer in the way excavators work,” says Hedenryd. “Once you start using a tiltrotator you’ll never go back.”
Steelwrist was receiving significant global interest for their Swedish innovation and applied for funding from Nopef three times to consider international markets. It began with the American market in 2016.
“We studied the American market, talked to dealers, potential customers and others in the industry,” Hedenryd continues. “We mapped out where the dealers were and decided to base ourselves in New England, outside Hartford, Connecticut.”
Steelwrist’s 1,000-square-metre American operation already hosts six employees. Their local presence was crucial to help US sales leap 200 per cent this year.
In 2017 Steelwrist turned to Nopef to study the South Korean market. It is a major market for excavators and they were encouraged to see potential interest. In fact, they noticed a copy of their solution and knew it was time to act.
“Now we have five people in South Korea and sales have increased nicely,” says Hedenryd. “South Korea is already a larger market for us than the UK, and we have been in the UK for ten years.”
Japan was the next potential market Nopef helped Steelwrist study in 2018. A representative office has been opened after the feasibility study was completed in Spring 2019 and the first sales have begun. Their Japanese office currently has one person and they are in the process of recruiting a second.
“The most challenging part of expanding into another country is finding the right people,” Hedenryd says. “Nopef’s support was crucial in the early stages. They provided resources which helped us to begin the search for the right, properly trained people.”
Now excavators around the world are using Steelwrist’s solutions to improve their efficiency and productivity, saving time and fuel while lowering emissions.
“I’m optimistic about our future and our international growth,” says Hedenryd. “My experience with Nopef has been good; they have been responsive and our projects have gone well. Nopef helped us to push the green button to explore new countries.”
Text by: David J. Cord
Photos: Steelwrist AB
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