Because of a growing medtech industry and high customer demands, Elos Medtech decided to expand their factory in Skara, Sweden. I interviewed Mathias Andersson, Managing Director at Microplast, about his role at the company, the reasons for the expansion and in what way the expansion will benefit Elos Medtech’s customers.
Mathias, tell me about your career at Microplast. What does your role as Managing Director involve?
Well, I started working as Managing Director at Microplast in March 2012, a little over four years ago now. When recruiting for my position, they were looking for a market-oriented Managing Director who would be assigned the mission to increase turnover while maintaining profitability. The mission was also to, within five years time, expand the factory. But thanks to all of the competent employees and their hard work, the expansion of the factory didn’t need to wait that long, but saw the light of day already after four years.
In my job, I mostly work with strategic matters to continue to enable future growth. I often discuss with our customers about their future needs, and together we create what we call a road map, which enables us to plan ahead to make sure that our customers’ needs are in line with our capacity. In this way, we make sure to always stay at the forefront of our industry. Another part of my job is to make sure that we have the right organization and competence, and that we invest in the latest equipment, to maintain a high degree of automation. Beyond that, I have traditional Managing Director tasks, for example responsibility for the operations and budget.
Prior to Microplast – what was your occupation?
The last ten to fifteen years I have worked with Marketing and Sales in leading positions. During that time, I operated within business-to-business and worked mainly in the plastics industry. Just before I started working at Microplast, I worked as Marketing and Sales Manager at a company manufacturing plastic packaging for the food industry. My responsibility was dairies in the Nordics and food-service products in Europe. There are tremendous demands in the food-industry when it comes to for example clean environments, therefore it has a lot of similarities with the medtech industry. In addition, I have also worked with technical support with a focus on quality, product training and sales support, among other things. One could say that I have a solid background and experience in different businesses, mainly within the industrial segment.
So, tell me a little bit about Microplast. What kind of business do you have there?
Microplast was founded in 1971, so we turn 45 years this year! Elos Medtech acquired Microplast in 2011, at that time we were 13 people working here. Today, we are 24 people working in the facilities, which consist of both office space and a factory. At Microplast, we manufacture technically advanced plastic parts for the medtech industry. We manufacture plastic parts for products such as hearing aids, pacemakers, diagnostics, analysis instruments, disposable articles for blood analyses, dental products and surgical instruments suitable for orthopedics. Above that, we provide production in clean rooms, as well as produce and assemble products, which we deliver to our customers after sterilization.
We also offer a number of different refining steps where we use ultrasonic welding, machining, printing, assembling and packing. We do everything we can to give our customers as much value as possible. We work with all kinds of plastics but mainly high performance plastics like for example PEEK, POM and PVDF. These plastics replace metal and are meant to cope with specific demands such as chemical resistance or heat resistance, or be exposed to pressure or heat. We also work with polyolefins like for example PS, PE, PP in medical grades to use in disposable labware products.
Soon, you will inaugurate your new factory expansion at Microplast. What are the main causes for the expansion?
One of the objectives when I started as Managing Director was to increase sales and consequently expand our factory. Our current factory has become too small, with no room for the production lines that we need. Due to the increased demands from both current and new customers, we needed to expand, which we of course are glad to do! Our new factory will handle projects from both new and present customers, and the purpose of the expansion is to be able to grow long-term with our customers. Our workshop is now attached to the new factory as well, so we have the possibility to broaden our post processing in form of assembling, completion of products and much more. To deliver finished details is an increasing demand from our customers, one that we will be able to undertake more of with the new expansion.
What was your role in the project, and how has the process proceeded?
In autumn 2014, we started with the planning of building the new factory, and the board gave clearance for construction start in spring 2015. My role in the expansion process was to be a part of a steering group consisting of a couple of key persons. Together with an internal construction coordinator and an external project leader, the steering group has made sure that the functions and spaces which we have ordered are at the right place at the right time, and in line with our budget and strategy plan. Subcontractors and an architecture firm have been responsible for construction, architecture, and project management. From the moment we put the shovel in the ground, the project has taken us little less than a year. For such a major project, the process has been really efficient. The new equipment consists of several new machine lines. However, we will not fill the whole factory from start, but we will successively invest in new equipment to be able to adjust our equipment to the future needs of our customers. We now have the possibility to double our capacity compared to before, which is great!
What have you got planned for the inauguration day?
The inauguration will take place the 26th of April, which is the same day as the Annual General Meeting, which will be held later that afternoon. There will be a guided tour of our facilities, both the present and the new one. Inauguration speeches will be held and we will have specially invited guests such as shareholders, stakeholders from Elos Medtech, the municipality, press, vendors and customers.
What will the expansion of the factory mean for the customers?
Our customers will be able to assign more production to us and we will be able to offer a commitment that means more processing and more delivery of finished products. We will have a high degree of automation, with focus on quality as usual, which means that we will be strong compared to our competitors. Our expansion enables us to grow with our customers. Our goal is to grow and expand our business to meet the increased requirements in the medtech industry. We also create a platform to increase and supply the right competence internally.
What kind of challenges and trends do you see ahead, within the medtech industry?
The product development is much faster today than it was before. Today there is a larger focus on both patient safety and patient benefits. This will lead to higher demands, both on the manufacturers and the product owners, which are our customers. A challenge is to cope with these demands and make sure that we always are best when it comes to quality, delivery and production. With our new factory, we believe we are a force to be reckoned with in the future, within the medtech industry.
Thank you for a nice chat, Mathias. Your expansion of the factory at Microplast sure sounds exciting, as well as promising for the future of the medtech industry. If you have any questions, please contact us or visit our website to read more about Elos Medtech and Microplast.