KWH Mirka
Mirka was the first company in the world to launch a system for dust-free sanding.

Never ready

Mirka is strongly committed to development

Innovation is a word that is often overused today. However, it is still hard to find a better way to describe Mirka, a world leader in abrasives technology. Throughout its 70-year history, the company has invested heavily in product development, while simultaneously revolutionising the entire abrasives industry. Mirka’s greatest innovation of all time is the invention of dust-free sanding.

“Dust-free sanding means a cleaner and healthier working environment, and a higher quality sanding result. In other words, dust-free sanding is a highly sustainable solution,” says Mirka’s CEO Stefan Sjöberg.

Like many great inventions, dust-free sanding was discovered more or less by chance, when Mirka was experimenting with how to reduce manufacturing costs. Over several years, the dust-free sanding concept was developed and refined, before finally being launched around the turn of the millennium.

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“Mirka’s corporate culture has always been strongly development-oriented. We are constantly looking to improve things,” says Stefan Sjöberg.

“Despite the fact that dust-free sanding is something very common for us, we meet new customers every day who have never heard of it. Hence, there is still great potential. Our competitors have of course started to develop similar solutions, but we know from experience that it takes quite a while to successfully develop a commercial product,” says Sjöberg.

The dust-free sanding concept includes both special abrasive materials as well as the tools to use them. Mirka’s tools are constantly developed to become smaller and lighter, and in this regards they are far ahead of competing solutions.

The strong culture of development that characterises Mirka extends across all areas in the company. This is evident in how the company develops its sales processes with the same commitment as the products are developed.

mirka-6“We approach sales in the same way that we approach any other process that can be optimised and fine-tuned. Since our sanding systems are no standard solutions we need to be close to customers in order to be able to provide them with support and training,” says Sjöberg.

A considerable number of Mirka’s employees work in sales, and the company has established sales offices in 20 countries. As much as 98 per cent of the products made are for export, despite the fact that all of the production still takes place in Finland.

“We have built an expertise in Finland over a long period of time, which would be difficult to move elsewhere. Our competitiveness stems not from low wages but from innovation and product development. This strategy also means that we do not produce bulk products,” Sjöberg explains.

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The dust-free sanding concept includes both special abrasive materials as well as the tools to use them.

Another good example of Mirka’s ability to think innovatively is found in the bioenergy power plant that has provided the factory with heat energy since 2013. Thanks to the power plant, the company’s carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by 6,000 tons annually, while also allowing Mirka to become independent of oil.

“The starting-point for building the power plant was actually to find a way to make use of the waste material that occurs in the factory. At the same time, we have a constant need for heat energy for running our processes. Thanks to the power plant we now get energy at a lower cost than before. This is a good example of how innovation can also happen outside of the core business,” says Sjöberg.

KWH MIRKA LTD.

www.mirka.com

Business sector: Sanding systems, coated abrasives

Turnover: €231 million

Employees: 1,100

Export: approx. 98%

Major markets: North America, Europe, Asia, BRIC-countries

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