Non-stop development

Fristads Plast

Multiple recycling, smart digitalisation, and listening to what the customer should have said. These are just some of the issues constantly buzzing around in Christian Forsström’s busy mind.

Christian never originally intended to stay in Fristad. He graduated from his high school electrical-telecom programme at the top of his class, and had his sights set on the wider world.

“I was only going to help dad out with the business. That was in 1985, but time kind of flew and I still find it just as enjoyable.”

Driven by new ideas

Today Christian is Head of Development at Fristad Plast and runs the company with his brother Niclas, who is Managing Director. They are very different people but complement each other well.

“We always have something new in the pipeline, always want to take things further. My motivation is not in financial gain; I’m constantly looking for new ideas and developments that carry us onward. Trying to find the future,” says Christian.

Seven cycles of recycling

One example of this forward thinking is the research he and the company have conducted with RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden). Over two and a half years, on site in Fristad, south-west Sweden, they have been testing in how many cycles the same material (a nylon with long molecular chains) can be reused with maintained quality down to the molecular level.

“We’ve managed seven cycles with exactly the same molecules all the way,” says Christian, explaining that this proves it pays to buy more expensive material of high quality rather than cheap material, which many customers ask for.

“You might say that customers could rent the plastic from us, return their old products and get new ones back in the same material. A closed system that saves the environment and the customer’s money.”

The best customer is one who challenges

For Christian, it’s all about development – also when it comes to finding the optimum working method.

“The perfect customer could be the one who fits our existing machinery, but in fact it’s the opposite. Rather, it’s the one who arouses our curiosity so that we invest new technology, new machines and new staff in developing a new branch in our production. And we’ve done this many times.”

Digital optimisation

Fristad Plast were also early to adopt digitalisation back in the 1990s. Today their entire production system is connected, and for the past year has shown statistics on the whole manufacturing process in real time on a large monitor at the factory.

“Because we can keep a constant eye on the results, we’ve increased capacity by over 10 percentage points, and today OEE is almost 85%. So rather than using two new machines, we do just as much work anyway by using the ones we have optimally.” 

Connected and receptive

Christian’s dream customer is one who can be fully connected to keep the flow steady and constant. “We use a business management system where we can easily implement connections between different parties, and with that we can develop things as far as we want,” he explains, adding that software and receptiveness are also key.

“I believe in listening to the customer – not in just doing what the customer says, but often doing what they should have said. We basically want the best for the customer’s future.” He clarifies:

“I know a lot about materials, environmental aspects and future technology, and can inspire and guide a customer along a brand new path towards a stronger future.”  

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