During a celebratory event in London earlier this week, media and guests heard how the company was established in the UK with a single sales office selling diesel engines at the end of World War I, but has now grown to become a large organisation that employs more than 2,500 people at six production centres and multiple sales offices across the country.

There have also been many notable milestones along the way, including the launch of what claims to be the world’s first oil-free, rotary screw, stationary compressor in 1967 and the launch of the VSD+ compressor in 2013. The company has also expanded through acquisitions, including the purchase of UK-based vacuum product and abatement Edwards Group in 2014.

Atlas Copco said that it is now looking forward to the next 100 years of operations in the UK at a time when megatrends, such as digitalisation, electrification and artificial intelligence, are set to transform the face of modern industry.

“We are proud of our long history in the UK, and the future looks very bright,” said Alex Bongaerts, UK Holdings manager at Atlas Copco. “In our opinion, there has never been a better time to be operating in the industrial sector. Digitally enabled technologies are transforming the way we design, build and operate equipment such as compressors. Indeed, Atlas Copco hopes the next 100 years will be as successful as our first century of operations in the UK.”

Guests at the 100 years of operations event heard how Atlas Copco had embarked on a significant process of electrification, with battery and hybrid products expected to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

“One of the major areas of emphasis going forward will be the continued drive towards sustainability, particularly in terms of the electrification of equipment such as mobile compressors and generators, lighting towers and pumps,” said Bongaerts. “Traditionally, much of this type of equipment has been driven by diesel engines, but in urban environments or events such as music festivals, there is a desire for cleaner and quieter performance.”

Atlas Copco also described how technologies such as the Internet of Things – driven by the application of sensors, software and connectivity – would give industrial organisations much better visibility of their assets, delivering significant advances in areas such as remote monitoring and predictive maintenance.

The use of artificial intelligence, meanwhile, would allow equipment such as compressors to track and make process improvements autonomously as independent cyber-physical systems. The company also described how connected technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, would transform the way that maintenance workers repaired industrial equipment, both in factories and out in the field.

In addition to the event in London, Atlas Copco also ran a series of regional events designed to give as many employees as possible the opportunity to celebrate the 100-year milestone.