Founded in Tampere, Finland in 2011, TreLab is a company focusing on the automation of real-time data collection. The company was selected to cooperate with Kuusakoski, a leading MNC in recycling business, via the innovation call of Nordic Innovation Accelerator in 2014. At the time Kuusakoski was looking for solutions for data collection from over 150-metre-long car crushers, which require significant robustness and reliability from the technology used.
TreLab’s business focuses on equipment and machinery for which real-time data collection is not yet used. There is plenty of such equipment; for example, several industrial companies are searching for cost-effective solutions for this need.
“Around 90 percent of machinery currently in use is estimated not to use real-time data collection,” says Kimmo Saarela, Managing Director of TreLab. “The wireless, sensor-based TreLab Smart Data Mill solution is able to produce real-time data about the use of equipment and machinery and their operational environment. We are able to comprehensively cover the data collection needs of machinery remaining outside the “Industrial Internet of Things” and without disturbing the object of measurement.”
A challenging operational environment calls for new solutions
Kuusakoski selected TreLab as its partner as a result of an innovation search on the Nordic Innovation Accelerator platform. In retrospect, it may be said that the cooperation benefitted both parties.
It was important for TreLab to find reference customers in the domestic market to help expedite the marketing of solutions and recognition of the company. Kuusakoski, on the other hand, had not been able to find solutions in the market which would endure and be able to provide reliable data collection on the operational environment of car crushers.
“At the time, we had been developing our solutions for several years. We needed both outside capital and reference customers to be able to accelerate our business,” Saarela says and continues: “The Kuusakoski project was significant to us for many reasons. Most importantly, we received a big, public reference which improved our credibility in the market and among investors. Secondly, we truly learned a lot about working with a big company and were also able to improve our solutions based on their feedback.”
TreLab serves as a good example of how much innovation power start-ups have.
“We heard later from Kuusakoski that our solutions have survived the highly demanding circumstances of car crushers for over a year. In my opinion, our cooperation was an excellent example of how bringing small and big companies together can benefit both parties.”
A fast process benefits everybody
Saarela found the process related to the innovation call smooth; it did not cause much extra work for them.
“The entire process went really well for us. We did not actually need to do any kind of work we weren’t doing already. The case was mostly about applying our solutions to Kuusakoski’s needs. Red tape and extra bureaucracy were completely missing from the process. We got to take a shortcut, so to speak, to introduce our solutions at management level, which would otherwise have been really difficult,” Saarela gratefully mentions.
The objective of both parties was to start a concrete project as soon as possible. The pilot project of TreLab and Kuusakoski began in January 2015; in practice immediately after the end of the innovation call application period.
“A significant advantage of our solutions was the fact that the sensors do not take long to install and, for example, in the Kuusakoski case we had installed over ten measurement points in the entire car crusher equipment within four hours,” Saarela says. “Instead of a traditional project, thanks to our solutions Kuusakoski was immediately able to access data for optimising operations. In such applications, it is possible to find the best practices between different units through correct data and then utilise the data extensively, which improves efficiency and reduces costs.”
TreLab has grown rapidly, and it looks like the current fiscal year is their first profit yielding year. The Kuusakoski reference has helped TreLab gain new customers from both small, medium-sized and large companies.
“It is worthwhile for a start-up to take part in the innovation searches of Nordic Innovation Accelerator. It is an excellent opportunity for a start-up. There is no need to beat about the bush. A small company does not have the same experience as a big one, and it is worth absorbing their experience. Although we had already prepared and planned for many things, we learned a lot from the cooperation project. Furthermore, we received an important reference which accelerated the development of our business in several aspects.”
Nordic innovation Accelerator offers an effective way for large corporates to find solutions for renewal and a way for startups and SMEs to find new business opportunities, partners and investors.
If you wish open your own innovation call, don't hesitate to contact us: Emmi Kaipio, firstname.lastname@example.org, +358 40 535 3997
By Anu Pousi on in Nordic Innovation Accelerator