Atlas Copco celebrates 75 years of industrial excellence, innovation, and growth


A story of over seven decades of innovation leadership within the industrial sector and the journey of growth

In modern business environments it is fundamental for businesses to pivot and for organisations to be extremely agile in their responses to market change. Companies must remain flexible in terms of their responses to market forces such as increased competition or new customer demand. Swedish multinational, Atlas Copco demonstrated that ability and agility since being founded in 1873 in Stockholm. This year the company is celebrating an incredible 75 years of impact in South Africa, where it has had local presence since 1946.

Internationally, Atlas Copco was founded to serve a specific goal, namely to provide Swedish Rail with all of its equipment needs for building and running the country’s new railway system. A pivot occurred by the mid-1880s to produce more advanced offerings such as steam engines and boilers in order to cater to the needs of the First Industrial Era. 

Locally, that spirit of innovation and agility in its business processes also took hold as the company started by manufacturing equipment like components for service rifles and aircraft engine parts amongst other products during 1947, before pivoting to offer clients a wide range of industrial equipment.


A constantly growing operating footprint

Atlas Copco has grown the local business and entered many new sectors through regional expansion and acquisitions, and consequently expanded its breadth of product and service offering to its clients. The organisation’s impressive history of innovation not only resulted in productivity, environmental, cost and operational efficiency benefits for its clients, but has also translated into numerous awards for the company.

These awards include receiving an outstanding award for its Leadership Role in the Green Building Economy during 2017. In addition, Atlas Copco also won a slew of prestigious Red Dot Design Awards for products such as the 8 Series range of portable compressors and the HiLight H5+ LED light tower in 2017. Atlas Copco Industrial Technique also came up tops in the Good Practice Awards competition, which focused on the safe handling of hazardous substances, with the award recognising the company’s focus on improving air quality in laboratories.

In 1999, Rand Air became part of the Atlas Copco Group, offering customers rental services of compressors. Founded in 1973 Rand-Air has built an excellent reputation as an industry leader when it comes to the provision of portable air and power rental. The Rand-Air range varies from oil-free compressors, industrial air compressors, diesel compressors, electric air compressors (all screw compressors) to diesel generators and lighting towers.

Setting the CSR standard in the industry

Beyond innovation and agility, corporate social responsibility has also been ingrained in the Atlas Copco way of doing business from the beginning. Atlas Copco is involved in various projects including sponsoring the world’s largest full-service mountain bike stage race, KAP sani2c. This event also provides much-needed employment for the local community through their enterprise development, with the latest edition of it resulting in 150 community members being employed. In South Africa the company also has a strong focus on helping to provide water to communities without access to water and sanitation.

This story of innovation and growth is set to continue, under the novel Atlas Copco banner of ‘The Home of Industrial Ideas’. The organisation has also set ambitious sustainability goals that include an audacious commitment to have 30% female representation across the business, including every managerial level, by 2030. That goal will simply build upon the businesses out of the box thinking and problem-solving capabilities to ensure that it continues to drive innovation for the next 75 years and beyond.


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