Industrial project

Sandvik: Mining made digital

You might think that the mining industry is underground and behind the times when it comes to digital technology and valuing user experience. This is all but true with Sandvik—a forward-looking engineering group who specializes in mining and construction equipment.

Sandvik was on the forefront to see and realize the opportunities of automation and digital technology in mining. In practice, it meant changing their mechanical control system into a state-of-the-art digital system.

Sandvik partnered with Idean during this transition. The aim was to improve the overall quality, capability, safety, and productivity of their equipment. We approached the challenge with a collaborative design process that included the participation of miners and Sandvik’s experts. The end result was a beautiful design system that improved Sandvik’s product development efficiency and quality.

Going from a mechanical to digital control system created a disruption point where one can (and should) rethink how to make the most of the new system. In this case, we focused on improving the mining operator experience and facilitating product development in the new environment.
A beautiful and practical digital interface for Sandvik’s construction and mining equipment. The design system makes the new products more appealing, easier to use, and consistent across Sandvik’s product lines. It also improves the quality and efficiency of the product development with reuse.

Sandvik, an engineering group that specializes in mining and construction equipment, was ready for a change. New digital technology had a great promise to increase safety, precision, and efficiency of the mining machinery and Sandvik wanted to provide that for their clients.

Idean and Sandvik joined forces to tackle the challenge. Together, we leveraged the possibilities provided by the digital control system to maximize the equipment experience for safety, clarity, and ease of use.

In the end, we had a comprehensive interaction and visual design system that could be used as a template for future products. The system continues to provide a uniform user experience across Sandvik’s offerings and has significantly raised their development quality and their productivity. But before we could do that, we first needed to go underground…

Getting our hands dirty

In collaboration with Sandvik, we visited mines in Morocco, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Chile, and Peru to explore mindsets, conditions, and habits of machine operators. We observed operators throughout their work day, talked with them, and watched them interact with our prototypes, while tracking their daily working practices.

These insights went straight to designs, as they helped us understand what miners found confusing and what they found helpful. This allowed us to truly refine and devise empathetic solutions specific to the miners’ needs and challenges.


Gathering user insight at 1000m (3/4mi) below ground in Morocco. Our designer in the middle and operator on the right.

Into Industry 4.0

Sandvik implemented our designs into a reusable software library with Idean supporting and making sure the implementation was both smooth and efficient. The library allows the solutions to be leveraged efficiently and consistently across products and among diverse teams.

Over several years, we continued to expand and develop Sandvik’s interface design system. Though we started out by applying the designs to a small-scale mining jumbo and loader, it has since expanded to large production drills and automated process solutions among other uses.

Now, the jointly created design system is used throughout Sandvik’s entire product portfolio, from surface drills to underground dumpers and crushers. The system is utilized in a multivendor environment where Sandvik, Idean, and other partners utilize it with great success.

  • A wireframe of the loader dashboard display.

  • A wireframe of navigation through the UI.

We made features more visible, more clear, and more meaningful. Operators can use and control machine features efficiently and effectively, and can perform a wide variety of tasks with more ease, such as moving and initiating drills, monitoring the drilling process, selecting which parameters to use for each task, and troubleshooting. The ease and speed of the new interface gives operators better control over and understanding of their own equipment, allowing them to achieve the full potential of their equipment.

  • An overview of the Remote Operating Stations that allow operators to navigate a loader remotely, e.g. in such cases as in a dangerous environment.

  • A view of the Remote Operating Station while driving the loader: A video feed from the machine and a dashboard that helps the operator control the machine at the bottom.

Solid design, massive impact

The standardized and tested design system has enabled more straight-forward development and reduced costs, cutting the user interface design time by 20% and allowing a stronger focus on other essential topics. Additionally, the intuitive user interface significantly decreased the product learning curve for miners.

Sandvik Crusher

The Rock Crusher control panel.

As we’ve heard from Sandvik’s customers, “This experience is light years ahead of the competition.”

By our measures, that’s what successful experience transformation sounds like. Or, perhaps, you’d like to hear it directly from a user?