November 22, 2018 marks the beginning of a new era in Kalmar’s history. That was the day a newest Innovation Centre opened in Ljungby, Sweden, a small town in southern Sweden.

For the first time, Kalmar has gathered together all its consolidated competence in mobile equipment solutions under one roof.

“In all, we have about 200 people working here together. Earlier, we were working at three different locations,” says Dan Pettersson, Senior Vice President, Kalmar Mobile Equipment.

Getting experts working together and removing physical obstacles is a clear advantage of this new facility, which is designed and built to streamline knowledge sharing and generating ideas across borders.

“We wanted the new centre to boost innovation and cooperation both within Kalmar and with our external partners, such as clients and suppliers. We want to encourage learning from each other and to develop our way of working as a platform for innovative and creative solutions that support the customers’ business,” Pettersson says.

Journey to the future

Kalmar’s Innovation Centre is designed to stimulate collaboration and co-creation. It facilitates meetings with people, both scheduled and ad hoc. It’s a workplace that supports the journey to the future of the logistics business. Everything in the design of the office space centres around functionality, aimed to carry out the vision of stimulating great innovation.

The main idea of the office design is maximum flexibility, where an expert can choose a workplace best-suited for the current task at hand. For example, desks are shared in the open office concept. Gone is a desk of one’s own, replaced by the energy of a flexible office divided into three zones - quiet, working and collaboration zones - with lounges, quiet rooms, collaboration areas, project points, touchdown desks, and meeting rooms.

“We also have more technical spaces where we can, for example, lift components and experiment with different ideas. There is a room called “Frontier” where the focus is on innovative digital business solutions,” Pettersson says.

“The theme of the Innovation Centre is movement; movement of thinking, of ourselves and of opportunities to make new business models grow and innovation processes open up.”

And the movement never stops - you can even keep on working and creating at the office gym while exercising on a treadmill or stair climber.

“We also have quiet spaces both in the flexible office space and in private rooms when you need to really focus and work by yourself,” Pettersson says.

Hanging from the ceiling there are customised red containers that convert into meeting rooms.

“They’re also a constant reminder of our customers’ world,” emphasises Pettersson.

Another reminder of the real world and the industry Kalmar is shaping is a glass wall between the office space and the workshop where prototypes of Kalmar’s mobile equipment are built and tested.

In addition, there is a showroom where Kalmar’s new solutions can be put on display.

“‘The Hub’ is the heart of the facility. Currently, we are displaying our vision for the future in mobile equipment, meaning models of our future generation vehicles,” he says.

The Innovation Centre also has an outstanding test track where drivers can test new vehicles, pushing them to maximum speed, experimenting with tilting points, and conducting other tests. The track can handle loads of up to 160 metric tonnes.

"The vision is that we can act more as a true partner."

Just the beginning

The idea is that the Innovation Centre works on new concepts from the first spark of an idea to production.

“Innovation is a broad concept, and while the focus is often on new technology and machines, we’re also looking into new business models and new ways of working. We have to stay open-minded,” Pettersson says.

While excited about the new facility, Pettersson is also careful to note that this is just the beginning.

“This is a great start, but now we have to deliver on the promise. We have a vision of where we want to be in ten years’ time, but we can’t wait that long to deliver the goods. We have to deliver innovations steadily.”

“Also, the development cycle is much shorter with digitalisation,” he adds.

Pettersson is naturally tight-lipped about on-going projects, but he does reveal one example of how the Innovation Centre creates both new solutions and new ways of working and doing business.

“Soon, we’ll have thousands of machines that have collected data on their operations, and that means we can learn more about our customers’ businesses. The vision is that we can then act more as a true partner,” Pettersson concludes.