Blown away by success on US retail market
Battery-powered products for park management and gardening are an area of interest that’s showing significant growth.
Greater environmental concern, together with a desire for low noise levels when working in sensitive environments, means battery-powered equipment is becoming increasingly popular.
Best in class
Nolato has cooperated with Husqvarna on forestry and gardening products for many years. In two current projects, Nolato Polymer, based in Torekov in Sweden, has been involved in the development phase and in producing numerous plastic components for two series of battery-powered leaf blowers.
“The first project was for a series of professional blowers,” says Jimmy Wallin, Senior Manager Marketing and Sales at Nolato Polymer. “Husqvarna wanted the new series to move on to the next level and be the best in class.”
Plenty of puff for the price
“Part of the objective was to achieve perfect balance and ergonomics,” explains Jimmy Wallin. “Not just with regard to the overall leaf blower and what it feels like for users to hold, but also for the fan to be perfectly balanced so the blower is as free of vibrations as possible, and the background noise from the fan was eliminated.
“As they rotate at 24,000 rpm, we now check the fans using special measuring equipment to ensure the balance is within the stringent tolerances specified by Husqvarna. A lot of effort was also put into creating strong air flow with minimal energy consumption, which required a lot of optimisation of the inside of the cowlings.”
Looking for a challenge
In the second project, the aim was to develop a lower-specification version of the blower for the US retail market. Husqvarna has an explicit strategy of protecting itself on the professional market by also providing competitive, good alternatives on the consumer market, despite pricing pressure. This makes it harder for competitors to break into the professional segment via the retail market.
“Previous models aimed at the retail market have been produced in Asia,” says Christian Bylund, Lead Engineer at Husqvarna Research & Development. “But in this case we wanted to challenge ourselves and supply a high-quality Swedish-manufactured product that would be competitive even in the highly price-sensitive US retail market. The product would be developed and manufactured in Sweden, but would be sold in stores and hypermarkets in the US, as well as through major online retailers.
“So we worked a lot on the cost structure, adapted components and changed materials to reduce the production cost. The project had a tight schedule; when we asked Nolato to support us, there were only six months until the product was due to start production.”
100% delivery at top quality
“The tight schedule meant all aspects were a high priority. Nothing could go wrong,” comments Christian Bylund. “And it worked! We got exactly the product we had designed and we were bang on schedule.
“Nolato provided valuable and proactive support during the development phase by finding the solutions we needed and the project was officially completed with 100% delivery at top quality – it was an incredibly successful project.
“We also demonstrated, not least to ourselves, that we can compete in a price-sensitive market with a Swedish-made product. Sales are going great and the next challenge is to automate production.”