29 July 2019, 08:00
LECTURA Press arranged an exclusive interview with Niklas Nillroth, Vice President Sustainability & Public Affairs, Volvo Construction Equipment, who will become the CECE President in January 2020 and succeed Enrico Prandini.
You will become the president of CECE in January 2020. What would you like to achieve during your presidency?
The European CE industry is facing an interesting future with several challenges and opportunities. Increasing global competition makes it clear that we continuously need to secure our industry’s competitiveness. One of the key areas is to accelerate the digitalisation development and make sure we agree on common standards beneficial for the industry and our partners in the value chain.
This will also be a mean to further improve our industry’s carbon footprint, as reduction of green-house gas emissions will continue to increase in importance. The need to position the European CE industry as an attractive sector for the next generations of employees is another prioritised area.
What is your opinion on the European Parliament 2019 elections results?
I’m personally not an expert in EU politics, but I believe the results of the European Parliament elections might make it more difficult to establish firm majority alliances, with increased uncertainty as a result. The trend towards a more polarized political situation is clear, although somewhat less obvious than expected. On top of this, we also have the continued Brexit uncertainty.
I am happy to continue the work of my predecessor Enrico Prandini, on fostering the visibility and the recognition for the construction equipment sector. I believe that the European industry should raise the ambition for a new EU industrial agenda. With its own Manifesto, CECE wants to be an active player in this process. We firmly believe that the challenges for the EU industry over the next five years will be crucial and can only be tackled with a joint effort between industry and EU institutions.
What is your statement on China’s technological and digital transformation? How has it affected the European market?
As we all know, China has developed rapidly in technology development and export in the latest decade, not the least within our industry. This has of course meant increased competition on the European market. However, Europe stands strong in the technological area and I see digitalisation and innovation capacity in general as a mean to defend and grow our home market.
You are currently the Vice President Sustainability & Public Affairs, Volvo Construction Equipment. What is the status of Swedish construction equipment regarding the global competitiveness?
In general, Swedish construction equipment industry stands strong. We have a number of successful OEMs mainly focusing on the infrastructure, construction and mining segments. Since long, the Swedish manufacturers offer high-quality products on the global market. The ability to capture innovation opportunities becomes continuously more and more important.
The need for sustainable energy grows every day as the stocks of fossil fuels decline. Can we expect completely biofuel-powered machinery portfolio of Volvo CE and is it the company’s long-term goal?
Volvo CE recently launched fully electric compact wheel loaders and excavators and have now stopped the development of traditional combustion powertrains for these products. Electrification will for sure increase in importance looking forward, but the traditional powertrains will continue to be part of our offerings for a long time, especially for our heavier machines.
In terms of the goal to offer a product portfolio with biofuel-powered machinery only, all products in Volvo CE’s portfolio can already today be run on HVO100 (100% Hydrated Vegetable Oils).The goal is thereby already achieved and a substantial part of the Volvo machines in Scandinavia is currently fuelled with HVO100. The big challenge is to build production capacity for this and other relevant bio-based fuels. This is another area where CECE can take an important role.
How do you visualize a futuristic construction site in 2050?
I’m sure a lot will happen in the technology area in the coming decades, which I don’t know of today. But the recent “In Real Life” demonstration of the research project “Electric Site”, gave us some hints about a futuristic site; Electrified, autonomous and fully connected. Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G and coming generations of ultra-high-speed mobile networks will play a vital role and e.g. enable remotely controlled worksites.
For production sites with repetitive work cycles, I strongly believe this will be a reality. For other more service-related and non-repetitive tasks, the degree of autonomy will be lower. Skilled operators will be also needed in 2050!
What is your favourite piece of construction equipment and why?
When I joined Volvo CE in 1998, I started to work in Volvo CE’s product line for Articulated Haulers. Since then, I have had experience in most of all other construction machinery, but I have to admit that the Articulated Haulers are still very close to my heart! I believe they are impressive in their way to manage high payloads in all kinds of terrains and environments.
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CECE - Committee for European Construction Equipment is an organization which promotes, represents and coordinates the European construction equipment and related industries. The company also strives to harmonize the standards and regulations thus to maintain a fair competitive environment. Overall, CECE represents the interest of national construction equipment manufacturer associations in 13 European countries (incl. DE, UK, FR, IT, RU, TK). The whole sector consists of approximately 1200 companies with 300,000 employees.
Source: LECTURA Verlag GmbH; Patrik Eder