The position of a forerunner must be earned over and over again.
Peikko was founded back in the sixties after a certain need arose on construction sites.
“That’s how successful R&D starts every time – by identifying customer needs,” says Ján Bujňák, who runs the Peikko Product Development team together with Taru Leinonen. Bujňák is responsible for development of precast and cast-in-situ connections, and Leinonen for development of the DELTABEAM® Composite Beams and Frames, design tools and Intellectual Property Rights.
According to an often-quoted story, Henry Ford would have been creating faster horses if he had simply listened to the market needs of his time.
“We want to avoid that and keep our minds open, but we still have to have a thorough understanding of what our customers’ lives are all about.”
However, there are realities that need to be taken into consideration.
“Not everything can be solved technically. Or the solution might not be commercially viable. We need to carefully choose which R&D battles we want to take part in and win,” Bujňák stresses.
Incremental steps or leaps?
Peikko's customers often must concentrate on their core businesses, whether it’s architecture, structual design or construction.
“But we, as a component and solution supplier, are in a position where we can put our time and energy into imagining and creating solutions that don’t exist. Or in fine tuning the details of the current products so that they are better than before.”
Ideation is the creative part of the process, where a lot of people like to be involved.
“You don’t necessarily have to change the game totally with your every product launch,” Ján Bujňák points out. “But of course, you can!”
If the new solution is 10% better compared to the old one, that’s already a significant and value creating step forward.
The construction industry is heavily regulated.
But according to Bujňák, the field tests showcase not so much the technical quality of the product, but rather the practical value of it.
“Most of our proprietary, innovative solutions often fall out of the scope of the current standards. This is where we need approvals from the building authorities.”
Offering market specific products or changing the market?
Operating globally can be seen both as a challenge and an opportunity.
Quite a few of the Peikko innovations have been originally developed for the Finnish market, where Peikko has stood for speed, safety, and efficiency ever since the company was founded.
“We want to offer the same advantages in all the markets, but no other market is identical to Finland, so it would be foolish to offer exactly the same. We adjust our offering to suit local markets where needed. We also learn a lot in the process,” Bujňák explains.
In addition to European R&D centres in Finland, Germany, Slovakia, and Lithuania, there are R&D functions also in China, Canada, Italy, and Latvia.
“By having a multicultural R&D team, we are able to understand the market differences better. And experts from different markets might have different ways of understanding the same problems. That brings up new ideas.”
Sharing what we know
Peikko is committed to sharing the knowledge for the common good, be it technical papers, webinars, seminars, videos, or informal chats.
“We are always looking for ways to make the industry better – faster, safer, and more efficient. If you think of our founder Jalo Paananen, you can see that bringing up and sharing new ideas is in our DNA”.