Pushing the electrification agenda in mining processes makes sense from a financial and operational perspective. Normet recently invested in Lekatech, a Finnish start-up company founded in 2018 to introduce electric hammer technology to the market. The investment brings many benefits to both companies, explain Antti Anttila, Lekatech CEO, and Samu Kukkonen, Technology Director, Normet.
Partnerships work best when the needs of both parties are met fully. Normet’s minority investment in Lekatech boosts both businesses. “We’re focussed on using linear electric technology in hammering applications,” says Antti Anttila. “With the first product of this type to come to market we aim to be the industry benchmark. Our product brings many benefits to the scaling process. Normet brings credibility, market understanding, and customer knowledge.”
While products and services for the scaling process are only one part of Normet’s full-process offerings, the company is constantly on the lookout for areas in which to expand their electric portfolio. “Electrification in general is very important,” Samu Kukkonen points out, “not only in mining and tunnelling but in civil construction, infrastructure, and so on. We often talk about electrification of the drive chain and logistic efficiency, but we also see opportunities to improve the actual processes, like scaling. That’s why Lekatech fits nicely into our overall strategy.”
Traditional scaling, where loose rocks and debris is removed from the rock face after blasting, is performed using hydraulic hammers. These are powerful but imprecise and energy intensive to use. Lekatech’s electric hammer provides better performance and lower running costs amidst other advantages. The company suggests that their electric hammer reduces energy usage by up to 80% with zero local CO2 emissions compared to hydraulic versions.
Electric hammering technology also allows for highly adjustable operation. “From the operator’s point of view, they need to be able to work as efficiently as possible. Each hammer blow and the time between them can be individually controlled. It’s much easier and more ergonomic for the operator,” says Anttila.
Lekatech’s offering thereby provides customer benefits on different levels – both in terms of practical usage and overall financial and environmental goals. The focus on customer benefits is shared between the companies. “Normet’s full-process expertise is important for us to understand customer needs in the wider picture,” Anttila continues, “and how we can improve the customer experience. For example, we are trying to unify the UI between our products and Normet’s. We cooperate in research together where their opinions help us question and improve our decision-making. We see them as an attractive investor because of these insights.”
This positive view is shared from Normet’s side as well. “Lekatech’s technology fits very well into our existing portfolio. As we push electrification through BEVs for example, it makes sense to invest in related, mutually-beneficial technologies,” Kukkonen says, “that then feed in to both our customers’ and Normet’s goals, and where Normet can provide the global reach that would be hard to get otherwise.”
In fact, collaboration between the companies has been ongoing for some time. As Finnish companies, the match seems in some way natural. “We have a strong cultural fit with Normet,” Anttila remarks. “Normet are a big company with an agile, serious, forward-looking approach. We talk the same language in all senses of the expression and really enjoy working together.”
The partnership between Normet and Lekatech heralds a positive future for both businesses. “From Lekatech’s side we only see this as a plus,” Anttila remarks. “We’re a startup so by definition we are looking for aggressive growth, and we need the funding and know-how to do that. Normet gives us a good position in which to reach our financial and commercial goals. In the short term we’re concentrating on the European market, because that’s where the forefront of electrification is. But Normet will help us to break into new markets.”
As for Normet, information sharing is power sharing. “We share a lot of information and knowledge to make our work together stronger,” Kukkonen concludes. “Our long-term goals are to electrify everything we can, and Lekatech is crucial for us in terms of the scaling process. It will be very interesting in the long-term to see how we can continue to adapt this technology.”