When the whole world is hunting for protective masks
Can you build a new production line faster than ever before? This was the question Lars-Eric Ericsson of the Austrian machine manufacturer Engel asked us. Lars-Eric had been contacted by the innovator of Tiki protective masks, Mikael Klockseth in Stockholm. Requests were being received in great numbers, but Tiki could not match them with sufficient production capacity. A new line usually takes three or four months to set up. Could we do it in one?
The corona crisis changed everything for the protective mask manufacturer Tiki Safety outside Stockholm. Suddenly requests were coming in from basically every Swedish hospital. It didn’t take long before they got giant orders, not only from the Stockholm Regional Council, but also from the USA, China, Korea, Thailand and Great Britain. Tiki had two choices: say no, or invest in a new production line and get it up and running faster than it’s ever been done before. Would any automation specialist be able to do that? Who would want to work under such stressful circumstances?
Created for viruses, used for asbestos protection
Mikael Klockseth, managing director at Tiki Safety told us that the mask they constructed a couple of years ago was designed to protect wearers against viruses like Corona and Ebola. But since health care systems usually take years to notice, accept and employ such products, they’d focused on other environments where asbestos or quartz dust was the problem.
Why Tiki’s masks are so special
Mikael explained why Tiki’s mask is the best to be had. He demonstrated the built-in fan that hinders condensation, while creating a positive pressure inside the visor that allows for easy breathing. He showed us how the PET plastic visor seals tightly against the skin, yet feels comfortable thanks to the soft edging made from TPE plastic. Mikael turned on the LED lights – enabling perfect eyesight – and finished by proudly pointing out that the Tiki mask weighs 3-4 times less than other comparable masks, doesn’t induce claustrophobia, is easy to talk in and costs just half the price of competing masks.
Five instead of 15-20 weeks?
Standing on the factory floor in Rotebro, our sales representative got so excited that he said “Yes, it might actually be possible to build your new line in 5 weeks rather than the usual 15 or 20.” At the same time he wondered what he would say to us – his colleagues – when he came back to Jönköping. And how would the other necessary suppliers react to this crazy project? Without an ABB robot, we would be doomed.
“The fact that Daniel’s wife is a nurse gave our commitment an extra push.”
The will to help
Back in Jönköping we decided to put other projects on hold and immediately begin with the new Tiki line. Daniel Alpenberg was appointed project manager. The fact that Daniel’s wife is a nurse gave our commitment an extra push. ABB offered us good terms, and since the Elmia fair got cancelled Engel had the right machine in place in Jönköping. Several other suppliers also made great contributions of necessary equipment and fast deliveries. It was fantastic to see how everybody pulled together to help when the work felt extra meaningful.
One week shorter
We aimed for 5 weeks, but after 4 weeks the new line was working. The ABB robot put the visors into the molding machine (where the soft plastic edge is injected), and took it out again for the complete product to be packed. Tiki Safety immediately increased their capacity tenfold and after fine-tuning it went up 20 times. Tiki Safety managed the giant orders and Mikael Klockseth at Tiki, everybody at 3 Button Group, Engel and ABB agrees on how satisfying it is to contribute to something really good.
A special thank you
We’d like to acknowledge all the suppliers that made this project a success. A big thank you to Gimatic, Aluflex, Addema, Festo, Trans El Matic, Poenix Contact, Troax, Sick, Pivac, Väner tekno, Kinne lego, Ksab and Fam Karlsson Pulverlack.