Atlas Copco to expand Portable Energy division

17 October 2011

Geert Follens, president of Atlas Copco Industrial Air.

Geert Follens, president of Atlas Copco Industrial Air.

Atlas Copco said it will continue to develop its renamed Portable Energy division, expanding the multi-brand approach it has taken with compressors into other products including generators and pumps.

Portable Energy, the new name for Atlas Copco's Portable Air division, has embarked on a ‘five pillars' strategy, with the business focusing on five areas: compressors, generators, lighting towers, pumps, and used equipment.

At the same time, Atlas Copco announced that Horst Wassel, president of the division's Specialty Rentals business, has been appointed president of the recently created Quality Air division, taking up his new post on 1 January. A new president for the rental business is now being sought.

Geert Follens, president of Portable Energy, speaking at a dealer roadshow held at the division's headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium, last week - following a similar event in Panama for the Americas and with two others to follow in India and Asia Pacific - said; "the multi-brand strategy is well developed in compressors, and Gesan [the Spanish generator manufacturer recently acquired by Atlas Copco] gives us a kick-start on the multi-brand for generators."

Portable Energy already markets generators from small sized up to a new 1 MW containerized unit, but Gesan will add bigger gensets - up to 3 MW - and also adds geographical strength in Africa and the Middle East.

Mr Follens said the pump range will also be developed. Portable Energy sells the WEDA range of submersible pumps. "We see that we have gaps and we are determined to fill these gaps", said Mr Follens, "We realize that there is a diesel driven pump market - we are looking for a solution to that". He said the solution "could be an acquisition."

A new used equipment division - run by former Portable Air communication manager Sam Waes - is another part of the strategy. A Polish based used equipment centre has been opened to refurbish and sell Atlas Copco Portable Energy Products, with other worldwide centres to be established in the coming year or two. There may be as many as three other locations worldwide, although the exact plan has still to be confirmed.

The new operation has around used 50 units for sale now - and can be seen at the Portable Energy website - and are sold under a five different ‘quality' levels.

Mr Follens said the days when compressors alone were considered the ‘core' of the Portable Energy business were gone. He said generators had become core products and that the other product ranges would have to become more than ‘synergy' businesses, sold on the back of compressor orders. "If you define business as synergy business you will lose", he said.

A full report on the Atlas Copco Portable Energy division will be published in the November-December issue of International Rental News (IRN).

Meanwhile, the departure of Horst Wassel as president of Portable Energy Specialty Rentals, means that Atlas Copco is now looking for a successor to take over at the business. Copco said it would look to appoint an internal candidate.

Mr Wassel joined Atlas Copco in 1983 in Germany. He was appointed vice president CT Rental within the Portable Air division in 2006 and in January 2007 became president of the Specialty Rental division.

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