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Swedish Steel Prize 2017 winner Kiruna Wagon: Increased exposure and new requests

We caught up with Kiruna Wagon to see what has happened since being named winner of the Swedish Steel Prize 2017.

On the evening of May 11, 2017, the auditorium of the Waterfront Congress Center in Stockholm fell completely silent. SSAB CEO Martin Lindqvist stood on stage with an envelope, ready to announce the winner of the Swedish Steel Prize 2017. As he did, one company from the north of Sweden was changed forever. Kiruna Wagon had won for their Helix Dumper, an innovative wagon solution that is highly durable, as well as far more efficient and versatile than other ore wagons on the market.

The Swedish Steel Prize has become a widely recognized award within the steel and manufacturing industry – and beyond. However, what does it really feel like to win, and what is its impact on a company?

To find out, we caught up with Fredrik Kangas, CEO of Kiruna Wagon to see what has happened since taking home the big prize.

Can you explain what it was like to win the Swedish Steel Prize 2017?
Winning the Swedish Steel Prize 2017 felt great. It was a milestone for our company, and if you look at it in a broader sense, it really was an acknowledgement of what we have accomplished and are striving for. It was also a huge advantage to us for our goal of going global with our technology, where high-strength steel plays such a crucial role.

What was the response from the company back in Kiruna, Sweden?
We are a team of 23 people and the win did have a big impact on the company. Besides being a giant energy boost for the personnel as well as a confidence booster, it is something that we can always look back upon as proof of success in our work and how everyone contributed. After the Swedish Steel Prize event last May, it was very easy to see on the faces of the people in the company how proud everyone is of this achievement.

What has happened with the Helix Dumper since last May?
The Helix Dumper is a large and high-value product that was originally developed for a specific mining customer. Since winning the Swedish Steel Prize, we have seen a large increase in traffic to our website and social media channels like YouTube. We have also had many more inquiries and requests than before winning the prize.

Recently, a license agreement was finalized with RCR Tomlinson for the manufacturing of the Helix Dumper in Australia and, at the same time, we are in negotiations with more mining companies who are interested in the Helix Dumper technology.

What have been the benefits of winning?
The biggest benefit by far has been the exposure. It seems like everyone knows that we won. In almost every business relationship, from Australia to South America, to Sweden, practically everyone comments and congratulates us about the win. They have all heard of the Swedish Steel Prize and they all know that we won it.

In this way, the benefit is not only that so many people have heard our name, but that our technology has been validated as something revolutionary and valuable.

Are there other products in the works that utilize steel to create a competitive advantage?
Yes, Kiruna Wagon has been chosen to develop Europe’s next generation of bulk wagons in an international project that is part of the EU’s major investment in a competitive European industry, called Horizon 2020.

The goal of the project, which is carried out as a collaboration between nine European companies and organizations, is to create the most modern logistics system possible for the Spanish potash and salt producer Iberpotash, and thus set a new standard in European bulk logistics.

This is actually a huge step as we have been really proud of the Helix Dumper. The side dumper for the Horizon 2020 project is also revolutionary, as it is lightweight with a load optimized cross section that gives a 10 percent increase in specific load capacity in tonnes per meter, which equals 10 percent more payload per train. This saves money in a drastic way. It also standardizes the underframe allowing for the use of multiple carriers on the same underframe. The dumper utilizes high-strength steel significantly.

Lastly, what do you feel is the significance of the Swedish Steel Prize?
The Swedish Steel Prize not only motivates Kiruna Wagon to be a leader in our field, it pushes the entire mining industry as a whole forward. For us, it strengthens the Swedish mining technology brand even further and has a huge effect on bringing forward unproven technology.