According to Mirka UK’s business sector manager of transport & industry Chris Brook, the company continues to provide its customers with innovative and versatile cutting-edge products.
Surface preparation and abrasives specialist, Mirka UK has been helping customers find their finishing touches for more than four decades. Partnering with customers to develop the correct configuration of abrasive and machine operating parameters, that optimise processes and provide cost savings, Mirka uses its coated, non-woven and dust-free sanding products to provide surface finishing solutions that cater for both individual operations and complete sanding systems. The company’s product range covers abrasives for the widest range of applications within the composites manufacturing sector, from the grinding of glass fibre-reinforced polyester and the sanding of contoured surfaces and moulds to polishing composite surfaces.
Q) Firstly, please bring me up to speed with your latest news regarding appointments, new equipment purchases and/or facility upgrades?
This year has been rather busy, and is highlighted by the purchase of a cobot for use at our training centre. This purchase has enabled us to demonstrate our AIROS robotic sanding heads to end users when they visit us in Milton Keynes. In addition, we continue to work closely with key manufacturers in vehicle and marine, and related tier 1 suppliers to improve process and productivity.
Q) What kinds of demands are placed on you by your customers and how do your products help them overcome any technical hurdles?
The jobs our customers are doing are constantly evolving, but what we are seeing is that finishing consistency and efficiency is a dominant challenge. As a business, we have been working with several composite organisations to improve the core abrasive range they use to optimise the finish and process as well as introducing automation solutions to further enhance this.
Abrasive technology is an ever-developing subject for us, and we continue to be at the forefront of innovation to support end users with their constantly changing needs and requirements.
Q) Which industries are you seeing the most take-up for your solutions?
There is interest from multiple industries and there has been some interest from new and unexpected areas. What we are seeing is that businesses are under pressure to find skilled people and to be able to optimise the productivity of key current employees and processes. To achieve this, it is either done through new technology in automation or through process and product improvement.
Q) In terms of digital surface finishing solutions, how well has the myMirka App aligned itself to your customers - and the growing influence of Industry 4.0?
myMirka is a developing tool, but it has allowed the customisation of the operation of some of our cordless products to better suit specific applications and reduce rework. It has also enabled customers to easily access valuable information regarding the vibration exposure levels as a guidance tool. It also makes it easy for customers to register their tools for warranty. It is an ongoing project and there are further developments in the pipeline that we will announce when the time is right.
Q) What kinds of R&D have been invested by your company to brings your products to market?
As a business we constantly invest in R&D. This investment has allowed us to investigate and invest in solutions that can handle the applications, but also meet two simple challenges.
The first is the ability to handle the current job requirements and the second is being able to deal with what is coming down the line as composite technology continues to rapidly evolve.
Q) What differentiates your company from the competition?
Mirka is in constant communication with its customers to gain valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities within their industries. This information is then circulated to the R&D team, who use it to design innovative and versatile products that meet the requirements of the user and assist in increasing productivity and efficiency. An example of this is Net sanding, which Mirka is a pioneer of.
Q) Do you offer your customers training courses to ensure they sand the area correctly?
We offer training onsite or at our training centre in Milton Keynes. The training available is customisable, based on the customers’ needs and requirements and we work with them to maximise their productivity - and the finish they can achieve.
Q) What composites-related surface finishing developments will we be seeing in the future?
The composites arena is a fast-developing industry and the solutions required will need to keep pace with the evolution. When it comes to the developments, we will be seeing in the future, the main one will be further automation.
Q) What kind of post-pandemic industry landscape are we facing now that everything is getting back to normal?
The component supply industry has been impacted by many factors, including the pandemic. This has meant the industry is struggling to keep pace with what is needed. There have also been lower production rates during closures and reduced production. During these times, it has given engineers time to re-evaluate products and processes as well as the opportunity to discuss changes that normally would not be readily available.
Q) Would you say that your long-standing partnerships have brought huge benefits, particularly as trusted relationships can lead to a better way forward for all?
Yes, we work very closely with our distribution partners to support the end-user of our products. A good relationship with these organisations always translates into a common better way forward for all.
Q) Finally, where to next for your company?
The next thing for Mirka is to continue to provide our customers with innovative and versatile products.