A different kind of spring

Spring 2020 presented us with something that nobody could have foreseen. The exceptional situation has challenged us and forced us to adapt and prioritise.

There have been many changes at Kiilto, especially in our professional hygiene operations. The global spike in demand for raw materials and packaging materials has spurred us to explore, experiment and create new solutions on a tight schedule.

In product development, this has been reflected in our daily work, as we have studied and modified product formulas so that we can produce effective and safe products from the available raw materials without compromising on quality.

“This has involved many tests in our laboratory and challenging the creativity of all our chemists to achieve their goals”, says research and development manager Juha Issakainen. “We have prioritised healthcare in the manufacture of our products, but at the same time we are also serving other customers as comprehensively as possible, for example the food industry and professional cleaning, which play an important role in ensuring safety in our society”, Issakainen continues.

The different composition, scent or packaging of products may have affected the practices and everyday lives of our customers, and Kiilto is very grateful for their understanding. We are all in this exceptional situation together – we are not alone. Mutual support makes it easier to be flexible in the face of changes.

Challenges fuel innovation and creativity

When something is not available, other options need to be sought. Both product development and our purchasing departments have drawn on their creativity and expertise to find alternative solutions. According to Kiilto development manager Mika Hara, various sorts of changes have been necessary, as some raw materials and packaging are simply not available due to the global situation.

However, the exceptional situation has also highlighted the creativity and ability of the entire purchasing department to take a different view of things.

“This is the creativity we want to support, and hopefully we can also maintain the same spirit when the exceptional situation has passed. I am confident that once things have returned to normal, new practices that have been tried and tested under pressure will also become part of our day-to-day work”, Hara continues.

In addition to the successes of the spring, there have been failures, but through trial and error they have been put behind us.

“We still have things to learn, and a more detailed analysis will be carried out after the acute situation has passed”, Hara says.

The flow of industrial components from China is also under review on a global scale.

“We would like to see alternatives and genuine competition in Finland or Europe regarding streams of components imported from further away. We focused our procurement on Finland as much as possible even before the crisis, and we would like to see a further increase in the number of domestic suppliers”, says Hara.

A test of culture

Although the dominant theme in recent times has been products and their availability, the focus has rightfully been on people. This is the case throughout the supply chain, from raw material suppliers to end users. The chain of success includes buyers, agents, product developers and production workers, along with a great many others. It is essential that the crisis teaches us to better acknowledge each other, beyond products and services. Expertise is increasingly valued.

Something fundamental has been brought to the fore in both individuals and companies, something that tells us how our words and actions align. At Kiilto, one of the cornerstones of our operations is commitment to the future. This has taken on an even more concrete meaning now. In the future, every manufacturer of disinfectants, including Kiilto, will have to give consideration in advance to functional alternatives in case of possible disruptions to the supply of materials. This exceptional spring has also taught us to prepare for improbable scenarios and to keep contingency plans ready to ensure security of supply.

The commitment of individual colleagues, teams, customers and partners to work together has been great to see, and provides the motivation to strive for new solutions time and time again. This exceptional period will change the world and ways of working, and is also certain to change the operating culture of many companies. Together, we can ensure that we hold on to all the positive habits and creative solutions, and especially that we understand each other as fellow human beings better than before.