15 - 17 Nov 2022

Product development with plastics design as a core competence

Perhaps it's a small product that will interact with people. Probably with a display showing a series of numbers or letters. It may sound simple, but meeting the customer's functional requirements requires expertise.

Meet Jelmtech - this year's first Elmia Subcontractor Ambassador - who is helping Swedish manufacturers find new ways to achieve the optimum product.

Every year, Swedish Match manufactures around 300 million packets of snuff. The product itself may not be very advanced. A round container, an equally round lid and another lid on top. No real design problems at all.

  At the same time, the volume means that every second on the production line makes a big difference. The time savings are to be found in the plastic construction of the snuff container.

  - There's a reason I like to talk about the snuff container. Anyone can design a round box, but when we received the task it was to optimise the function to produce it a tenth of a second faster. That time saving means that they have earned back the cost of our development project in a very short time," says Carl-Fredrik Emilsson, CEO of Jelmtech.

  He holds one of the containers set up in the office showroom and empties a couple of pouches as he enthusiastically explains the significance of the project. With Swedish Match, it was all about optimal production. For another client, it might be about something completely different.  Like developing an extremely advanced instrument for blood analysis, or the durable Odger chair for Ikea.

  - We helped develop the first chair that Ikea started selling under its new sustainability strategy. It is made from a single material - there's not a metal screw in it - which means it can be ground down for recycling. To make the chair in the first place, we worked with a completely new combination of wood and plastic.

 

Giving oxygen to industry

From a snuffbox to an advanced blood analysis system. The breadth of Jelmtech could not be clearer. One day it is developing a tailgate-mounted bike carrier with Thule, the next an electric car charging point post for Garo.

  A breadth that says something - something bigger than the projects themselves - and something that not only highlights Jelmtech, but also the whole of Sweden as an industrial nation. Jelmtech is an enabler. The oxygen in the industrial bloodstream. Can this be produced? Can we save money by using a new material? Is it even possible? These questions, Jelmtech lives with every day.

  - Our customers range from billion-dollar corporations to a small individual two-man company that has received support capital from Almi. The whole range and everything in between. We're not industry-driven either, with projects ranging from things you can buy at ICA to advanced medical technology. However, the basis is often a volume product that requires production tools and can quickly be made from plastics. 'I would say that 75% of the products we work with are injection moulded and that 90% contain plastic somewhere, even if it's just a plastic plug in a larger product,' says Carl-Fredrik Emilsson.

 

Want to be even more cutting-edge

It's mainly in plastic construction where the expertise lies. That's where Jelmtech is a specialist and that's where they can make a difference through material selection or production methods. All with the aim of creating the ultimate product based on the customer's requirements.

  Or, as Carl-Fredrik Emilsson sums it up, to be the link between product owner and manufacturer.

  - If you're small, you usually need to be specialized, and our specialization is clear - we want to become even more targeted as opposed to broader. We have now added sustainability as a business element, which makes us more focused and enables us to help and guide customers to the best choice of materials. In order to make the right decisions, there needs to be a clear overview of the whole issue and although we are adding a business area, I think it sharpens our expertise.

 

Independence from manufacturers

The red brick building in Valhall Park outside Ängelholm once belonged to the Swedish air force’s F10 Regiment, and to this day the entrance is adorned with a metal Three Crowns emblem. On one short side, the air traffic control tower is still there, and the "no trespassing" signs tell us that the tower is still used by Ängelholm Helsingborg Airport today.

  Jelmtech moved here from Örkelljunga two years ago and the two floors are staffed by 28 people, each with a specific role in the development process. Including simulation. This cutting-edge competence makes Jelmtech unique and at the same time is an important tool for making production more efficient.

  - Almost everything we design goes through them," says Carl-Fredrik Emilsson. First, we make a design, then we go to our simulation experts and see what it actually looks like during production. Then we might have to go back to the design to make some changes. This makes us unique. Of course, the design should be good from the start, but thanks to the simulation we can identify issues such as, for example, that the moulding tool that is supposed to be used is too small to handle the design.

  It also makes Jelmtech independent. Independent of the manufacturer and independent of the machine. A strength that really helps create an optimal product.

  - Usually, a designer draws the product exactly as it should look and then the toolmaker has to make his changes. But we make tooling designs that are designed and engineered for optimal production. Then when it comes to the tooling solutions themselves, we always have a dialogue about what compromises we need to make, but the important thing is that we are independent. We only think about the product and that it should be as optimized as much as possible for our customer.

 

Close collaboration gives the best results

They call themselves development partners. An extension of the customer's development department that can work more efficiently and cut lead times. At the same time, every project requires collaboration and creating relationships that work. Not only with the customer, but also with other product developers who possess specific skills.

  - We only develop the mechanical aspects, if we need electronics or special competence, we need a partner. The same goes for prototypes, where we have an extremely good working relationship with a number of suppliers. We are totally dependent on prototypes to verify our designs. Beyond that, we work closely with external designers and the whole supply chain. All of this is collaboration for the good of the project. If you tamper with such collaborations, the end result suffers. The earlier people provide feedback, the easier it is to make adjustments based on that feedback," says Carl-Fredrik Emilsson. That's how Jelmtech works. The goal is always to produce an optimal product based on the customer's requirements. But the path to success goes through several stages, both internally and externally. Prototal is one example that Carl-Fredrik Emilsson mentions, Svep from Lund is another when it comes to embedded systems.

  - To get the best outcome at a reasonable price, it is all about creating long-term relationships and finding a partner to take with you on your journey. This makes everyone take ownership of the project. I think that's very important and it strengthens the whole industry. We're good at product development in Sweden and now that we're getting more production back, it's even more important," he says.

 

Gives the customer new insights

This is also something that permeates everything that happens in the old Air Force building in Ängelholm. They call it Team Jelmtech, but more specifically, no one ever works alone - instead, the entire business is run in a project form, with project members providing exactly the skills needed for the specific assignment.

  - This means that we can offer the customer highly customized product development, which in many cases is faster than doing it on your own. We also bring new perspectives and expertise that they do not possess themselves. Here we become a speaking partner - a sounding board - for the customer because we can see early on what is happening in several industries," says Carl-Fredrik Emilsson.

  It also means that knowledge and experience from one sector often spills over into another. Where some industries are early to implement new materials or technologies – such as the automotive industry - others may be a little later.

  - We can then help customers who haven't quite started thinking along those lines. We learn from some and teach others. Beyond that, we bring new perspectives to the table, so you're not stuck in the same rut you've always been in. Additonally, you get the cutting-edge expertise we have in plastics. We want to be the best in Sweden at plastic construction and we haven't found anyone who can beat us at it.

 

FACTS

Company: Jelmtech Product Development.

Location: Ängelholm.

Founded: 1994.

Number of employees: 28 (up to 35).

Industry: Product development in sectors such as medical technology, electrical equipment, automotive industry, protective equipment and leisure products.

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