Mirka is a widely-admired and leading protagonist in the world of surface finishing technology offering a broad range of innovative sanding solutions for the surface finishing industry.
Initially known for its abrasive technology and solutions, it was ten years ago last October that its Power Tools Division was established in Finland. Founded following the success of the Mirka CEROS in 2009, highlighted to Mirka that a dedicated power tools division was required to help anticipate and fast track the development process of future products.
Over the last decade, the team, today led by Veli-Pekka Västi, is at the cutting-edge of technology advancement and has created the impressive Mirka DEROS sander, arguably the most ergonomic and easy to use sander on the market which is amongst the company’s bestselling products. Furniture & Joinery Production caught up with Veli-Pekka to learn more.
“The Power Tools Division started in 2010, the inspiration for which was the Mirka CEROS. Prior to this, Mirka was looking into the electrical side as well, with the thought of brushless motors in mind. We thought it might be possible to make an orbital sander, with a brushless motor that could be as good from an ergonomic point of view as a pneumatic sander.
“That was the original idea which became the Mirka CEROS, the first electrical sander in Mirka’s portfolio. In the ten years since then, the Power Tools Division has successfully developed a number of new tools, notably for woodworking its Mirka DEROS and Mirka DEOS product lines.”
Regarding the division itself, Veli-Pekka says: “The establishment of the of the team was to create a stronger focus on the power tools. Abrasives themselves have a limited aftersales scenario, however power tools have commercial options in addition to the initial purchase – accessories, parts, service etc.
“Today, heading up the division, the biggest part of the work is in product development, but of course there is still the product life-cycle management too – and also there is a strong commitment to after-sales that I oversee.”
“The Power Tools Division directly employs over 40 staff – and with a growing product portfolio, it is quite obvious that we will need more in life-cycle management, more in after-sales ... there is always a need for more appropriate resources because you have an expanding portfolio.”
For any business to be innovative, it will take time – Mirka’s developmental approach might be described as steady and thoughtful, circumspect even. From his perspective, how would Veli-Pekka view the company’s power tool development programme?
“We have road maps and we are planning a long way in advance because it takes several years to successfully design and create something new. First of all, you put in the development phase which is considerable in itself, then the design and the certification takes a lot of time, when you are manufacturing the moulds, the tools for the tools, and thorough product testing too ... so a clear road map is needed so we can develop things, find solutions to issues, to achieve a successful product development.
“Typically, it will take around three-to-four years to develop a completely new product – to create a new size of an existing tool, it would take much less time of course.”
Asked if he could shed any light on current and future developments, Veli-Pekka said: “If you think about our portfolio today, the sectors we work in, there are still some gaps in our portfolio,” he replied cryptically, “for example, if you need to take a lot of material out from the surface, maybe there is something that should be there, in that field? And in robot sanding, there is a lot still to do.”
And trends in power tools, what’s Veli-Pekka’s view? “In terms of trends, it’s definitely cordless.”
In conclusion, Veli-Pekka referred to Mirka’s collaborative philosophy for developing its products: “We are seeing a lot of our customers in the early days when we are developing products. They are really happy to work with us and it’s a really positive relationship, in that sense. We are close to our customers, and there are positive benefits for both parties. In this phase, it is also pretty easy to change the scope. This is one of the key reasons why Mirka has succeeded so well – working with and listening to our customers.”