Lekatech making real a fully electric hammer dream
Published in Aggregates Businiess, 17th of April, 2023 (Guy Woodford).
Founded in 2018 in Kausala, Finland, Lekatech aims to revolutionise hammer and other attachment technology through its direct electric drive products. Guy Woodford spoke to the company's CEO, Antti Anttila, to learn more about Lekatech's ambitious growth plan.
Antti Anttila is excited about what the future holds for Lekatech. Currently undergoing trials at five open pit and underground mines and one quarry, the company says its groundbreaking fully electric hammer is up to 60% more efficient than a conventional hydraulic hammer attachment, providing significant energy savings for mining and quarrying customers while doubling impact force.
"We saw that electric transformation was coming to many industrial fields. For example, it has already happened in the automotive industry, and we noted it was becoming more important in mining and was coming into the construction machine and tools business.
"We thought, 'Are we too early with this?'. But then we noticed that the electrical transformation was going quicker in industries than initially expected.
"We are the only ones making electric hammers. Not only does it stand out for being electrically powered, but it also performs better and is very good environmentally."
Weighing 500kg, Anttila says Lekatech's electric top hammer "taps into the digital age", enabling the continuous digital development of hammer production using machine intelligence and precision-enhancing technology while offering connectivity with other site application tools.
Ville Sakkara owns Sakkara quarry, where Lekatech's innovative electric hammer has been undergoing rigorous testing attached to an excavator. He told Aggregates Business: "It's a huge step for our industry to move from hydraulic to electric hammers. I am happy to be part of it. Lekatech's electric hammer has proved its performance in Sakkara quarry's tough Nordic conditions."
I ask Anttila about how Lekatech was created. "Tuomo Peltola is the innovator behind Lekatech. He is an entrepreneur who had the idea for an electric breaker for some time. In 2016, he went to see Professor Juha Pyrhönen at Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology with his concept and asked whether it would be technically feasible. The professor is an innovator looking for new challenges. He dug into it and produced two positive feasibility studies. This led to Tuomo stopping his sub-contracting business in 2017 and starting Lekatech the following year. I came on board then, and we began formally designing and prototyping."
Which markets does Anttila see offering the biggest sales potential for Lekatech electric hammers? "In the long-term, we think our electric top hammer can be used across many industry segments. At the moment, though, it will work well in mining and quarrying. In those industries, there tend to be many working hours and running an electric hammer will produce huge energy cost savings."
Anttila says Lekatech's electric hammer will be "completely scalable". "We have one model currently but will work on further sizes in time. We aim to come to market with our initial 500kg electric hammer by early 2024, with the first customers using it on different-sized carrier machines."
In January this year, Aggregates Business reported that Normet had become a minority shareholder in Lekatech. The companies have collaborated since 2018, and Normet's minority shareholder investment supports Lekatech's continued growth and the commercialisation of its cutting-edge, fully electric hammers.
"Our goal is to zero out the CO2 emissions of impact hammers used in the mining and construction industry," said Anttila when the Normet minority shareholder investment was announced.
Lekatech's market goals support Normet's continued progress in mining electrification. According to both firms, the fully electric hammer combined with Normet SmartDrive battery-electric architecture will shape the future of underground scaling and breaking.
In November 2022, Aggregates Business reported that all excavator operators, contractors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who control their fleet via the Vemcon CoPilot platform now have access to operating modes for Lekatech's electric tools via an integrated app.
Vemcon CoPilot allows excavator operators to work faster, safer and more precisely by enabling them to control their mining and construction attachment via just one display. The platform's newly integrated Lekatech app allows operators to combine different frequency and energy settings for their Lekatech electric hammer attachment. At the same time, excavator operators can monitor their electric hammer attachment-generated data at a glance. As well as operating hour readings, the app displays various electric hammer safety functions and warnings.
Commenting on Lekatech's current manufacturing capability, Anttila says: "We have our 1500m² facility in Kausala, a small town around 90 minutes northeast of Helsinki. We will be using it to assemble the electric hammers after production is done in part elsewhere."
Asked whether Lekatech will be running a direct sales, dealer-led or combined direct-dealer sales operation, Anttila says: "We need an electric-carrier machine to put the electric hammer on. So we need to work closely with OEMs and their dealers who are engaged in electrical transformation. Norway is an example of a country where electric-powered [mining and quarrying] machines are commonplace, with distributors strong on the aftermarket side of electric-powered products. It will be very important that our customers have the support they need from us and our chosen dealer-distributors."
Anttila says that while he hopes Lekatech's electric hammers will become popular with quarrying customers in the longer term, he admits that the industry is still behind mining in its embrace of electric-carrier machines. "The incentive for quarry operators to turn their carrier machines electric does not appear that strong presently. When we talk with companies in various industrial segments about electric-powered attachments, some say they want them now, others in five years. Generally, though, the market development has been faster than expected."
Does Lekatech have plans for customer open days and to take part in any mining or quarrying equipment industry exhibitions over the next year to 18 months? "We have a long list of different events that we may attend. We will be at some of them, initially with a low profile. This will grow as our electric hammer is fully launched. A customer open day is also in the planning stages."