Mirka, renown Nordic high-quality surface finishing products and tools manufacturer, takes a trailblazer role in taking its industry forward. With its SurfValue ecosystem, the innovative family business brings digitalization to the traditional surface finishing industry, thus helping its customers increase productivity.
Founded in 1943, Mirka is one of Finland’s hidden champions. The family business from Jepua, Finland, manufactures high-quality surface finishing products and tools, which only yield prime finishes: They’re used in different industries for surface finishing e.g. cars and computers, along with other electronic devices. The company employs over 1,200 people, 730 of which in Finland, and approx. 95% of its products are exported. Mirka’s revenue in 2017 was approx. 300 million euros.
Digitalizing the whole value chain
Mirka’s operations have always been boldly innovative. Now the company is determinedly digitalizing not just their surface finishing tools and manufacturing processes, but their whole value chain through a three-year and five-million-euro project called Surf Value. Spinverse has helped Mirka in building this multisectoral ambitious co-creation project and is now coordinating this growing innovation ecosystem of Mirka and a couple dozen SMEs.
“The ecosystem brings together about 20 SME companies representing expertise from several fields such as software development, IoT, robotics, automation, smart materials, service design and business development“, says Senior Project Manager Kaisu Leppänen from Spinverse.
Discovering how to implement smart features in practice into surface finishing equipment and what new business opportunities digitalization can offer the ecosystem builds new solutions and capabilities aiming for new business for Mirka and all its partner companies.
“This strategic project is of high importance for us of course, but it has also a greater purpose than us: We want to act as a forerunner in lifting the whole surface finishing industry to a new level and to be able to offer even better service for our clients. At the same time, together with other Finnish businesses, we can export this expertise to the world”, says Mats Sundell, Development Director and Deputy CEO at Mirka.
Closer touch to end-users
As a result of this ambitious project, digitalization will be embedded to all levels of Mirka’s operations. Involving end-users in the value chain is seen as one significant opportunity. The data produced by smart equipment can be used to determine how the equipment is really being used on grassroot level. Increased customer understanding enabled by the feedback loop can be used further in improving product development and customer service.
“Before we had no direct links to our end-users but it has now become possible. Together with our partners, we have executed and launched our MyMirka application. Aimed for our users, it includes e.g. two-way communication capabilities in addition to instruction manuals and warranty information. Our IoT platform, MyMirka Dashboard, on the other hand visualizes data produced by surface finishing equipment and helps in determining the work results”, describes Annika Peltola, Commercial Manager, Digital Services at Mirka.
The digital feedback mechanism is also utilized at the other end of the chain. The in-development MyInventory storage management concept allows Mirka to automatically receive notifications from clients when their stock is running low and enables them to make a shipment without a separate order.
Digital training paves the way to new markets
One of the goals in Mirka’s project has been to expand business into developing markets as part of Business Finland’s BEAM program (Business with Impact). The cornerstone is digital training in surface finishing equipment usage.
“When user training for surface finishing equipment can be carried out digitally regardless of time and place, the threshold to entering new markets is lowered significantly. This saves resources and enables scalable business”, says BEAM program’s coordinator Markku Heino from Spinverse.
Mirka is especially interested in Africa and the first target market is Nigeria. Mirka can provide local operators with a completely new level of equipment, which allows them to boost their productivity and quality of services. In addition, Mirka’s products help improve the level of work safety. These factors build ground for new, sustainable business for both the local partners and Mirka.
“In countries such as Nigeria, workshop conditions can be quite rough. With Mirka’s ergonomic and dust-free products the situation can be alleviated significantly, and at the same time the productivity of the car repair shops and quality of living of the local people is improved”, Heino states.
Read more in (Finnish) in Tekniikka & Talous, March 27, 2019: