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Laura finds flow in dancing and digitalization

The state-of-the-art test mine in Tampere, Finland is a hub of activity for research and development at Sandvik. It’s here that customers can find Laura Hokkanen, a passionate dancer and specialist in mining digitalization.

Dancing and digitalization are two of Laura Hokkanen’s main interests. The Test Mine Digitalization Lead at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions believes digitalization is vital to solve mining’s ever-increasing safety, productivity and profitability challenges. And dancing, well that she’s been doing since she was five years old.

Today, Laura participates in dance competitions and mainly does Latino and Caribbean show dances. “These are joyful and quite fast paced,” she says, adding that she enjoys dancing in a team. “It makes training more fun when you’re surrounded by friends and together at all the competitions and performances. It’s good to share things both when it goes well and not so well.”

When dancing in formations, feedback is crucial. I think that applies at work too

She practices at least once a week and more if a competition is approaching. “Dance is both challenging and at best, a natural movement. Learning new choreography is always hard but then once you master it, it’s great to let go of thinking and just go with the flow.”

Going further faster

One of the things she’s learned from her years of dancing that can be applied at work, is the value of feedback. “When dancing in formations, feedback is crucial in becoming better because you can’t see what you can’t see. I think that applies at work too. We can get further faster when we can be open and frequently get feedback.”

Laura started working at the Sandvik digital test mine in Tampere, Finland, in 2022. After working remotely during the pandemic, she was happy to be with people again and have a physical workplace to go to. She has a master’s degree in automation technology and a Doctor of Science degree in pervasive computing. Prior to coming to Sandvik she worked with digitalization as a researcher, entrepreneur and for a heavy machinery company developing their new digital business.

My job includes developing digital solutions for the test mine – from early ideation to development

“I’m still new to mining but on a high level, there are many similarities to other industries from a digitalization point of view,” she says. “My job includes developing digital solutions for the test mine – from early ideation to development and then helping people to use the solutions. The test mine serves as the place for testing customer units, as well as for technology research and development. We also host almost 2,000 visitors yearly.”

Extensive research services for mining customers

The test mine offers customers real mine conditions for rapid prototype testing and quality assurance verification of underground equipment before customer delivery. “It’s also a center of excellence where we offer competence development to our customers and undertake research projects behind closed doors,” says Laura.

Together with customers, the digital test mine investigates new technologies for safer and more sustainable mining. “I think we can equip people to work in a smarter, safer way by bringing them all the necessary information and advanced recommendations with digital tools,” says Laura. “In addition, we can automate mundane tasks that no longer require people, and thus give people more time to concentrate on what they do best. While machines do the heavy work and remain at the center of operation, digitalization can help in getting the most out of one’s fleet and extend the lifetime with smarter use and maintenance.”

I love finding solutions that just click – when there is a real need and an elegant solution that just fits nicely into people’s routines

Working at Sandvik offers Laura the “freedom to explore cool stuff,” she says. And then there’s that moment, like in dance choreography, when all of the hard effort finally falls into place that she finds so satisfying with her job: “I love finding solutions that just click – when there is a real need and an elegant solution that just fits nicely into people’s routines.”

Three Quick Questions

What do you enjoy about your work in the test mine?
"Being able to create solutions that actually help people to do their work in a better way."

What motivates you to go to work every day?
"I think there is a great team to work with and all the necessary building blocks offered for me to do my job well. I have been really impressed by how smart and helpful people are in various different functions inside Sandvik."

Final words for anyone considering a job at Sandvik?
"I think there is a strong will to take care of people and enable a good work life. For engineers, the focus on excellence in technology is really impressive."