One of Scandinavia’s largest contractors and machinery hire companies - the Norwegian firm Hæhre AS, with a fleet of over 800 construction machines – has ordered explosion-proof Hammerglass solutions for retrofitting to 41 of its Caterpillar diggers. The order comes from Caterpillar’s Norwegian retailer PON, and is one of the largest individual orders ever received by Hammerglass Automotive.
“For us, primarily, this order means a big breakthrough into the Norwegian market,” says Hammerglass MD Bengt Nilsson. “Every steel frame has an end customer price of around 4500 €, so the order helps to give us a very nice turnover in the first quarter. We’ve worked long and hard to reach out to our user base in Norway, and it now looks as if it’s finally come off. In December, we had an order to retrofit 14 diggers for a quarrying company, and on top of that a number of major contractors have also said they’ll be upgrading machine safety.”
As early as 2010, the Swedish Work Environment Authority introduced legislation which required that those working in an environment where there is a risk of undetonated explosives, or of large rocks hitting the machine, should have adequate driver protection. As no such functional protection was available on the market at the time, Hammerglass AB became pioneers in the development work, both by actively contributing to the creation of new safety standards and by conducting extensive testing work resulting in lasting solutions.
“We’ve invested over 1.5 million € in product development of diggers and wheel loaders,” Bengt Nilsson tells us. “When you’re blasting, for instance, if 50 separate charges are detonated at the same time, it’s not uncommon for some of them to fail to go off, and then remain in piles of rocks as undetonated explosives. Experienced drivers learn how to recognise these ‘duds’, but if things go badly wrong there can be up to 3 kg TNT going off 3 metres in front of the cab. It was accidents like this that cost the lives of two drivers in Norway in 2016, which is why the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority has now begun to get to grips with this issue. Just as in Sweden, there are now demands for the Norwegian authorities to come up with more stringent legislation compelling firms to create a safer work environment for their drivers.”
Hammerglass explosion-tested solutions consist of a sturdy steel frame which is bolted firmly to the driver’s cab – a so-called RABS frame. Fitted in the RABS frame is a 12 mm Hammerglass screen, which will cope with the force of a resulting pressure wave and any projectile large rocks if an explosion should occur. To protect the screen against the constant barrage of rock fragments and gravel caused by quarrying with hydraulic hammers, a 4 mm Hammerglass sacrificial screen is mounted in front the main screen. This solution has become more or less standard practice in tougher working environments in Sweden, and is now on the way to achieving the same status in Norway. The system has also been tested in the so-called FOPS class, and therefore replaces the grille with which many machines are equipped.
Hammerglass Automotive continues its journey in the European construction world and the next stop on the road towards safer driving environments and better operating economy is Germany.
Swedish glassmaker Hammerglass is now continuing its expansion and has during the early autumn established itself with subsidiaries in Germany. Hammerglass Automotive, which is the market leader in the construction machinery segment, already exists with its own companies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and included within the expansion plans are additional countries in Europe and the rest of the world.
Responsible for the business development in Germany will be Oliver Afsah, who left his position at the company Thyssenkrupp in early September to land at Hammerglass GmbH's Nuremberg office. Already today, Hammerglass is established in Germany as a product, but without its own sales organization. Although Hammerglass glass systems are available for most brands and models, there are still gaps in the range.
– Hammerglass' goal is to be available to all machine manufacturers shortly - either as an option when the customer buys a new machine, or in the aftermarket when a screen is broken or if you need to secure the machine for tougher workouts, says Oliver about the investment in Germany.
Oliver will be responsible for the German operations and is currently in an intensive phase of product training and marketing planning. Oliver will put a lot of energy into building relationships with Hammerglass partners and as a German speaker, communication will be easier.
– It will be a great advantage that I am both where the customer is geographically and also has the language as a mother tongue, says Oliver.
What are your biggest challenges with Hammerglass Automotive in Germany?
– To make the market aware that there are no alternatives to Hammerglass, Oliver concludes with a smile.
Around Europe, a lot is happening on the driver's safety front. Earlier this spring, the Norwegian State Roads Agency introduced new tough rules for the protection standard that applies to the construction machinery used on their construction sites. More countries are expected to follow in the same tracks as risks in the machinists' work environment are at the center. The protection standard used in Norway and Sweden is called Protection Class 3 - RABS and is a collection standard consisting of several different European sub-standards and standards. Nothing new then, just a new combination requirement. Hammerglass is one of the few companies that meets the tough requirements and that welcomes more standards in the field.
Bengt Nilsson, CEO of Hammerglass AB comments on the RABS requirements:
– It is good for the industry if there are clear requirements and standards that regulate what is the right protection. This makes it easier for contracting companies to create a safe working environment”, says Bengt Nilsson.
In addition to Safety Class 3 - RABS being a protection for the individual machine driver, Hammerglass protection solutions also offer several financial advantages for construction machine owners. With Hammerglass in the cab, downtime in production is limited or avoided as window replacements are made less frequently. Machines that do not run in high-risk environments also benefit from the Hammerglass system, especially with an add-on Sacrificial Screen. When the sacrificial screen is worn by gravel wear and propelling stone chips, it is replaced without having to make more in-depth window replacements in the cab. The savings with replacing a sacrificial screen many times greater than replacing an ordinary windscreen.
Hammerglass AB has landed the company’s biggest order in years with a request for bullet-proof and explosion-proof windows and doors worth 1.8 million EUR. The order was received by Hammerglass Property and confirms the company’s leading position within the area of security glass.
– Unfortunately, the very strict secrecy requirements mean that we cannot disclose the identity of either the customer or the risk object, but I can confirm that installation will be carried out during Q3 and Q4 this year, and that it involves upgrading a property in Sweden, says the Head of Hammerglass Property, Torbjörn Timmermans.
– We have for a long time offered ballistic-resistant solutions which, thanks to the characteristics of Hammerglass, are much thinner and lighter than traditional bullet-proof panels. Because we are also able to manufacture bullet-proof insulating glass, a lower weight and thinner glass package are of extra significance.- Besides supplying complete window and door systems, we can also handle everything from fixing solutions to turnkey installation. In consultation with the customer we establish the relevant threat level, make a thorough risk assessment of the risk object (Security Assessment) and finally present the customer with a solution.
– There are still many that believe it is enough just to have a protective film on the inside of the pane in order to withstand terror attacks. Unfortunately, both experience and testing demonstrate that not even films of the right protection class can help to any significant extent. What is more, in 9 out of 10 cases it is not possible to attach the film to the window frame in the correct way, which means that the entire glass package is forced into the room in a violent attack. We live in a world where the risk of terrorist attacks is constantly on the rise, and more and more understand the importance of having the right type of protection in case anything should happen.
Bengt Nilsson, MD of Hammerglass AB in Förslöv, now sees that further investment is needed in both production equipment and personnel in order to cope with the increased demand.
– We increased our turnover by 80% from 2016 to 2017 and by the end of February this year we had already reached our projected turnover for 2018, says Bengt Nilsson. This is of course extremely gratifying, but we’ve been laying the groundwork for this over many years and that is what has made our current market presence and volume increase possible. Exports account for around 40% of the turnover, and even though our business in Sweden is growing, we can still see that the primary potential for increases in sales of our products lies in exports. And we are not just active in the Property division, but also in Infrastructure and Automotive. These, too, are showing excellent growth, which means that the question of taking on new staff will arise during the year, says Bengt Nilsson in conclusion.