To achieve this, we need the greatest minds. One of these minds is Erik Kocken Wennerholm. Erik is the Senior Vice President of Signs & Work Zone Protection in Saferoad, the business area that designs, manufactures, advises on and delivers traffic signs and work zone protection services across the Nordics.
Erik’s relationship with roads goes way back. Whether it's in a car, on a bike or by feet, traveling on the road has been an important part of his endeavors. On long road trips or even longer bike trips, all the way from the north and across Europe this passion for being on the road has grown into a drive for keeping travelers along the roads safe.
– Alongside being able to make the roads safer, what I like about the work we do in Saferoad is that we fill a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to infrastructure and society, says Erik.
Companies play an important part in today's societies. Saferoad's main contribution to society is delivering products and services that contribute to a safer life on the road. In order to drive that responsibility, Erik and his team within Signs & Work Zone Protection are a crucial part of the Saferoad Group's offerings within infrastructure related products and services.
Erik points at three main areas that, in addition to traffic safety, drive the development of the products and services that Saferoad offers within the area of Signs & Work Zone Protection. These are: technology, sustainability and the ever-increasing urbanization.
Signs & Work Zone Protection
Saferoad offer a complete range of traffic signs, variable message signs, LED, gantries, posts and work zone protection services in the Nordics.
Technology is a moving train, and it's moving fast. There is no stopping it, this makes it in many ways mandatory for all companies to adapt. But is adaptation enough?
– Technology and digitization can be the key to increase road safety. To Saferoad it is important to drive the development and not only adapt to it, says Erik.
What our technology does is to increase safety, enable the logistical process to flow smoother and more secure. In the end it's all about building for a better future and using the technology in the right way for the people.
One example of a project that has done just that is from the Swedish city of Gävle. The city was experiencing traffic jams connected to sporting events in the area of Gävlehovsvägen, something that caused major delays in the public transport. Saferoad introduced a reversible bus lane to solve the problem. Based on geofencing technology, the buses on their way to the area were automatically registered by the system, which then directed the traffic away from the lane so that the bus could pass smoothly in a free lane. The same principle could also be added to prioritize emergency vehicles or other types of public transport. See a video about the project here.
With great minds comes great responsibility
Our responsibility as a company is to build for a better future. As a big part of Erik's passion for traveling and exploring new places, the mountains have always been part of new discoveries. But it's clear to Erik that human actions have had its cost on nature.
– We have a responsibility to do our best to reduce the negative climate impact on our nature and in our communities. For me it's indisputable – there is no question if climate changes are real. For companies it's a matter of pitching in to solve this challenge, taking our responsibility and leading the way to ensure a good future for the coming generations.
Even though the phrase “sustainable solutions” has been around for over 30 years, it’s still somehow often classified as a buzzword. But for us it’s a fundamental principle and an integrated part of our effort to provide resilient solutions to our customers.
– As a company we carefully monitor the environmental footprint from our production facilities, in order to identify improvement areas and challenge ourselves on how we can reduce our emissions throughout the value chain. After all, our business has a place in the bigger picture, says Erik.
Reuse and fossil-free vehicles
Something that we are proud of in the Work Zone Protection area is how our rental products are contributing to reuse instead of consumption of new equipment for projects that will last for a temporary time period. This contributes to less impact on the environment.
In several of our local operations we have also started utilizing fossil-free vehicles. This is something that is both requested from our customers and also important to our employees. The good thing about this is that the services we provide enables our customers to operationalise some of their sustainability goals as well.
Erik predicts that sustainable solutions will be a license to operate in the future.
– We are seeing an increase in the demand and questions for sustainable solutions from our customers. If you want to be a relevant provider in the future, you need to offer and guide towards sustainable solutions. This will be mandatory, and it will be a license to operate, he continues.
We only have one planet, and we are increasing in numbers. Cities are growing and urbanization is inevitable. In this development the coexistence of increased infrastructure and the people living in and around the cities is an increasingly relevant topic.
– Urbanization drives the need for more infrastructure. When the infrastructure is undergoing developments, noise from construction and increased traffic is an issue for the people living in these areas. With our solutions for noise reduction, we are enabling people to not only work on developing infrastructure, but also live close and next to infrastructure, Erik says.
When our customers succeed, we succeed
We are, and will only be, successful when our customers succeed. Therefore, we work to enable them to achieve their goals.
– What we bring to the table is knowledge. I think it's important to remember that, because it's not just about the products themselves, it is a matter of having the knowledge about what solution fits best to each and every project that makes the big difference, and our employees definitely have that, Erik concludes.