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The mining industry faces continuous challenges in terms of increased global competition, demand for productivity, skills shortages, loss of scarce technical skills, strikes and high turnover rates. Hence, the lack of engineering skills (technical and management skills) may seriously hamper the capacity of the mining industry to ensure that productivity and safety standards are maintained. Mining and Quarry World looks at one of the roles performed by Ulf Gyllander: Global Product Manager/ Tophammer Cab Machines who has been in and around the mining industry for many years, witnessing many changes in both the development of mining machinery and the skills needed to be successful in this great industry of ours.

Responding to today’s skills shortages with short-term fixes is not enough. The more critical challenge is to address skills gaps in ways that contribute to long-term organizational success. Engineers ensure that new processes and technologies are introduced and that current businesses are optimized and utilised. This can only be done by innovative ideas to ensure a quantum leap in performance and competitiveness. Business leaders often report deficiencies in both hard and soft skills and shortages in four key areas:

  • Basic skills (which include communications and basic business acumen skills).
  • Technical and professionals’ skills (technology skills).
  • Management and leadership skills (covering areas such as supervision, team building, planning, decision making and ethical judgment).
  • Emotional intelligence skills (such as self-awareness, self-discipline, persistence, and empathy).


Ulf Gyllander: Global Product Manager/ Tophammer Cab Machines

Ulf Gyllander has a variety of working experiences, including time in the military, from 1991 onwards Ulf needed to utilise his experiences and concentrate his efforts to achieve a more stable position within a company.

Experiences gained in the earlier years would lead Ulf to take a position with a company called Atlas Copco where opportunities to develop and progress would be more prevalent.

Ulf Gyllander (when not working for Epiroc) also coaches ice hockey. His role as ice hockey coach is a combination of teacher, motivator, organizer and listener, in addition, there are many other responsibilities that a hockey coach will fulfil and can include: facilitator, demonstrator, evaluator, supporter, and planner. Somewhere… throughout Ulf’s career, all these characteristics have been developed, but most importantly these characteristics are and have been transferrable.

In the case of coaching hockey, while strategy and tactical skills are required, there would be the added responsibility of teaching participants the fundamental skills and rules of the game; providing a fun and safe environment; developing character; teaching physical fitness; and having the ability to communicate in a positive manner. Does all this sound familiar in terms of forging a career in the worldwide mining industry?

Ulf’s passion for ice hockey resonates throughout his working life, when, Ulf is committed to something he see’s it through with passion and vigour and I am convinced that Ulf sees every product development and release via Epiroc as a challenge in terms of maintaining worldwide interest for the company’s products.

As a coach and mentor strategies and tactical awareness are always needed, no matter what industry or profession you are in. For any team to become successful they need to be developed, through this development every team member becomes a primary importance thus being able to advance in the competitive world of mining equipment and business.


Mining and Quarry World interview:

Ulf Gyllander: Global Product Manager/ Tophammer Cab Machines/Epiroc

MQW: To stay in the mining business for a long time clearly shows passion and commitment…. briefly explain your early signs of where you thought your career was heading.

Ulf has a background in mechanical engineering, it was this bias towards engineering that focused Ulf into achieving long term goals and stability for himself and family.

MQW: Qualifications and experience can be used as a worldwide currency, what qualifications and experiences do you have?

Ulf achieved several technical qualifications of which some related directly to the mining industry while others would dovetail into its associated supporting industries. However, Ulf does have experiences which he believes are a major asset, coupled with administering technical training around the world for approximately 11 years also enhances his qualifications/experiences.

Globetrotting around the world, meeting people, engaging in technical conversations, and listening to mining people and their opinions allowed Ulf to broaden his knowledge, to this end Ulf always thought that this type of work made him feel comfortable and at ease with his role.

MQW: In the earlier years who were your mining hero’s?

“I think it is comfortable to say that all the teams and people I worked with were possibly mentors that I could look up to or call upon when needed”.

MQW: What do you think are your main qualities…as a person…as a manager and as a leader of people?

“From my perspective I think that the ability to communicate and listen to other people are paramount in terms of working with and leading teams, my experiences of training people around the world as operators, technicians or to raise awareness of health and safety issues gave me a good understanding of the way people react in certain situations”.

MQW: Do these qualities cross over into your social/free time…if so where and how?

“There are some similarities when you cross over into the coaching side of hockey, and I would say that communication and talking as well as listening are most important. Another key aspect is to be able to talk and listen on different levels. All people irrespective of their age, gender and ethnicity should be spoken to with professionalism and respect, being mindful of their background, capabilities, and characteristics”.

MQW: Who do you think encouraged you the most?

“I do not think there was any one person who did this, however, my first recollection of this would come from the marketing side of the business and the technical engineers I worked with.”

In many cases a career in the mining industry presents opportunities for global travel initiating discussions and debates with “like-minded people”. Epiroc is a world leader in the field of mining and promotes its partnerships and support programmes worldwide.

MQW: What has been your proudest achievement so far working with Epiroc?

“One of my first recollections is the contribution towards the development of a navigation system which enables very precise positioning of drill rigs for operators, this was most satisfying and a very proud moment.”


Photo credit: Rasmus Ohlsson

MQW: As a coach what do you think is the most important quality to possess?

“The main challenge when coaching hockey is they all love the game, so there is an expectation that we are going to be successful. One of the main challenges is the varying levels of ability, enthusiasm, and potential, listening to your ‘team players’ is imperative, working within teams at Epiroc resonates the same thoughts.”

MQW: What do you see as the real difference between coaching a male/female team?

“With reference to ice hockey, all team members fight for the same cause and there is not much difference but historically the mining industry has been male dominated, however, I do believe that this is changing but in my opinion this change is happening at a slow rate.”

MQW: How do you see the integration of women in mining being addressed within your company?

“We do have a high focus on diversity and inclusion within our company, and we are definitely moving in the right direction. Personally, I think more emphasis should be placed on promoting the mining community as a great place to work offering, challenge, fun, excitement, and good career paths.”

With new technological opportunities and advancement becoming readily available many of the inherent physical obstacles are now being removed”.

The values of a diverse workforce are there for all to see, mining is a great business to be in, promoting employment, retention, and advancement of women in the mining sector to progress professional goals and career aspirations, this is key for this industry.

Epiroc has set the goal of doubling the number of women in operational positions by 2030.

To achieve this goal Epiroc focus in 3 strategic pillars.

  • Increase awareness.
  • Measure, identify and follow up.
  • Top management commitment.


MQW: What benefits does diversity in mining give companies?

“One of the obvious benefits is that there is a different viewpoint that comes over, this can be in designing, training or problem solving to name a few but some of the best decisions are born from teams that have a good blend and mix of personalities and characteristics.”

Epiroc acknowledges that embracing diversity and inclusion is imperative if the industry is to achieve and exceed future targets.

MQW: How do you think the mining industry is perceived by women and how does the industry encourage more women into mining?

“Indeed; there are fewer women on the boards of major mining companies, however, this is changing and increasing on an annual basis, it is refreshing to see the change happening.

Most women are probably less encouraged due to the working conditions but to counteract this we must have a greater presence in schools, colleges and universities and work with these establishments to promote mining and careers in mining for all”.

MQW: What key projects are you currently working on?

“I am currently working on a large project, but I am unable to share the details of this project publicly, however, just like the car industry our drilling rigs constantly need upgrading and “tweaking” to ensure that our customers get the best out of them”.

MQW: In relation to the most recent project can you explain any improved safety features that you have been part of developing?

“As always some of the most updated aspects on the drilling rigs are related to moving parts, ensuring that these are not in conflict with the personnel operating in and around the machine. One of the key safety features is that we are now getting further and further away from the actual drill site via remote operation.

Improving the operator cab experience and environment is also an area that has been developed”.


MQW: The mining industry is often littered with claims of improved efficiency on most pieces of equipment…to give our readers a more convincing view of your product can you explain how efficiency has improved in your products?

“This is undoubtedly on the pollution aspects from the fuel consumption, recently a typical engine would consume 32/33 litres per hour now modern machines use as little as 21/22 litres per hour and can drill even faster. As well as this we improved electrical and mechanical systems making the drilling rig more efficient than its predecessors”.

MQW: Discounting fuel consumption and exhaust emissions what makes your latest drilling rigs better than your nearest competitors?

“In my opinion the key things to take away as a customer is that our drill rigs have a better service life, they drill faster and have less maintenance on the rock drills”.


MQW: Where do you think mining is heading?

“Remote operations and automation are becoming a leading technology in our industry and is a keyway to move forward”.

Epiroc offer many solutions for the development and implementation of remote operations as can be evidenced by the partnering with mining companies around the world.

Understanding the challenges within a worldwide mining community is paramount, and a vital part of a sustainable society and global productivity partner for mining.

Battery technology and electrification are now well established within the company, Epiroc continues to spearhead the development and advancement of this technology.

Mining & Quarry World would like to thank the staff of Epiroc for their co-operation in providing images and information during this interview.