27 December 2023

Interview with Åke Sonerud, co-owner and founder of OilQuick.

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Interview with Åke Sonerud, co-owner and founder of OilQuick.
Hudiksvall, December 5, 2023.

Åke, this year marks 30 years since you and your father John developed and sold the first quick coupler.
How did you come up with the idea for a fully automatic hydraulic quick coupler?

Well, time really flies when you're having fun.

In the late '80s, mechanical quick couplers started appearing on the market along with several hydraulic attachments, including the first tiltrotators. My father John and I noticed the development quite early on, and since we already had our Grab John bucket with a hydraulic grip, we saw the need for a fully automatic hydraulic quick coupler.

We developed our first prototype in 1988-89, which we patented. We also sold a few units of this solution.

How did the prototype work?

The first prototype was a solution that connected vertically. However, quite quickly, we realized the advantages of a horizontal solution with an H-cylinder. It involved more functions, more connections, and provided better precision.

It was simply more advanced. By 1992, we had a well-functioning solution in place. It was an OQ45 that we back then referred to as OQ12 because it was tailored for machines in the 12-ton class.

When was the new product ready?

We sold the first OQ quick coupler in 1993, and in the following two years, we sold 20-30 more. Over the next 4 years, we developed several sizes of our brackets, and by Bauma 2004, we had OQ90 and OQ120 ready.

What were the biggest technical challenges in general?

Once we had the technical principle clear, the biggest challenge was that there were no hydraulic couplings that met the requirements. When an attachment was disconnected in the evening under cool temperatures and then reconnected in the morning when the sun had warmed the oil in the hoses, problems arose. The residual pressure increased in the hoses, and the couplings couldn't handle it in the end.

It took quite a long time before we finally found the right technical design for the couplings. Not until 1996 did we have couplings that worked satisfactorily. Since then, we have continuously developed the couplings into what they are today.

What everyone still asks today and what many still believes is a problem, is how it works with dirt and dust. It is not, and has never been a problem, as regular maintenance eliminates that issue.

How did you solve machining and manufacturing in the first years?

Since we did not have our own production at that time, we contracted many local manufacturing workshops. Over time, we found larger and more advanced suppliers. It wasn't until 2016 -2017 that we started large-scale in-house production.

Who was the first customer?

A local contractor named Yngve Keller was one of the very first to buy an OQ12 in 1993. Yngve had a Huddig machine, and he used that bracket for a long time.

Another early buyer was Björke Entreprenad, and on his machine, we created a sandwich solution in 1993 with a quick coupler above and below his new tiltrotator.

We also conducted early business in Norway, where we had our partner Ole Siem. Ole at OilQuick Norge has been involved from the beginning and has always been a driving force in our development. Already in August 1993, Ole sold an OQ12 to Morten Rosenberg in Hamar, which was mounted on a Hymas 8200.

Ole also has a customer from Ås in Norway who bought an OQ12 early on, and today, 30 years later, that bracket is still in use. That's quality!

What does the journey ahead look like?

We are extremely optimistic about the future. Today, OilQuick stands as an industry leader and a symbol of innovation in hydraulic quick couplers. Our historical journey clearly demonstrates a willingness to meet and overcome technical challenges, driving development forward.

We have many geographical markets that are still waiting to benefit from our solutions. We are now investing heavily in North America with in-house manufacturing, service, and sales. Within just a few years, we expect to reach one billion SEK (Equivalent to approximately 100 million US$ ) in global sales.

For many years now, we have been offering fully automatic quick couplers for all tool-carrying machines, like excavators, material handling machines, wheel loaders, forklift trucks or cranes. We have a strong foundation in technical expertise and a commitment to continuous improvement.

We aim to continue shaping the future and contributing to increased safety, efficiency, and productivity within the industry.


Read more about OilQuick's history