What if gaskets could talk? – With an innovation culture, we create new customer value and an even more positive employer experience

If the gasket could speak, it could tell us that it’s installed correctly and ready to act as a critical factor in the key flange joints of different systems in the industry. It could state that it secures and ensures the continued operation of important processes.

The gasket could also tell if the joint is tight or if it has micro leaks and when it would be time to replace the gasket. In this way, accidents could be avoided, the environment would not be burdened with unwanted emissions, and there would be no unnecessary costs for the process owner as efficiency decreases.

All of this may soon be possible with TT Gaskets’ smart gaskets, for which we’ve applied for a global patent.

Improved safety for flange connections with smart gaskets

Gaskets are critical components of many industrial solutions. Their functionality often depends on people’s expertise, as the single biggest cause of leaks is an installation error.

This is addressed in the training we plan and provide together with the Tampere Adult Education Centre (TAKK). The flange connection installer qualification training according to EN 1591-4 standard states that the installation error can be caused by, for example, improper condition of the bolts, incorrect tightening, or incorrect types of bolts.

Smart gaskets are specifically designed to rule out the possibility of error. In the future, the gasket may indicate that it’s ready to work as desired. When this is combined with our flange joint installer qualification training, we are able to significantly improve the safety of flange joints.

Innovation has always been an important part of TT Gaskets

Joint innovation and development have been done at TT Gaskets since 1943, when my grandfather founded our family company and innovated Finland’s first gasket materials for the needs of the Finnish Defense Forces. The time of scarcity, demanding conditions and intense urgency were excellent motivators.

Today, innovation continues to flourish for us, thanks to the Smart Innovation Lab we founded three years ago. Together with our extensive developer network, we are exploring industry-leading gasket innovations, such as smart gaskets, or gasket authentication markings, virtual warehouses, and gasket material selection tools.

We are also implementing an innovation culture in the interdisciplinary design department. Together with our customers’ design departments, it solves and designs new sealing solutions for existing applications – and to an increasing extent also new solutions for the future applications around the world.

In recent years, we’ve systematically invested in innovation so that we can be more involved in our customers’ design projects in the areas of mechanical testing, theoretical modeling, and computation. We’ve been able to accelerate the development of our customers’ new machines and other solutions, and have found safer, more environmentally friendly, and productivity-enhancing solutions for existing applications.

Employees want to constantly improve their work

However, if any company wants to renew itself constantly, innovation and challenging current operating models cannot reside in just a few of the company’s operations. We’ve wanted to ensure that we develop as innovators and that it is truly a matter for everyone – a part of our culture.

The most recent manifestation of this was the first TTG Academy, which ended in the summer. Over the course of 1.5 years, TT Gaskets’ foremen and team leaders received training on modern supervisory work, and one of the themes addressed was building and nurturing an innovation culture. At the Academy, we also developed a day-to-day management model that provides a way to form a common snapshot in each of our production departments. As a result, the production of new initiatives and ideas, for example, has gained significant momentum, even though it was already on a good level before.

I’m very happy and grateful that our employees want to take our company forward on a daily basis. With various new openings, we are developing ways to serve our customers in an increasingly diverse way, refining our operations from a sustainable development perspective and offering our employees safer and more interesting days at work.

Ambitious goals drive innovation

In recent years, we’ve increased our cooperation, especially with the Tampere University community. The various final projects, internships, recruitments, development work and experiments carried out together have brought us thinking that has made it possible to carry out many reforms.

These projects would probably not have been possible without outside help. From time to time it’s important to admit that not all smartness can be found in your own organization. It’s ok to look in the direction of partners and ask for help.

A culture of cooperation and constant innovation must be always nurtured with ambitious goals. At the same time, one must be prepared to change direction if a project doesn’t produce the desired result after several attempts.

Stronger cooperation with customers

The development of the new and our enthusiasm for taking it forward has brought us significant new customerships even during the coronavirus epidemic. We’ve succeeded in securing and streamlining existing sealing solutions by standardizing them across multiple sites, reducing maintenance complexity. On the other hand, some of the new customer relationships have started with our ability to come up with completely new types of sealing solutions for the machines of the future.

We’ve also been able to strengthen our collaboration with our customers and more often present them with new solutions that could improve their business model, increase their additional sales opportunities, and develop to make it easier to differentiate themselves from competitors. In the future, we’ll become even more active in this field.

Thank you for your time and answers to our customer experience surveys! Through them, we received confirmation that the more active and innovative TT Gaskets has been liked by many in recent years. During the autumn, we will produce video material presenting our sustainable development investments, our new factory and our expanding product and service offering.

Stay tuned and see you on LinkedIn and hopefully live too. We are at the Subcontracting Fair in Tampere from 21st to 23rd of September 2021 and at Elmia, Sweden from 9th to 12th of November 2021.

Let’s design and pilot together for a safer tomorrow!

Aleksi Arpiainen

Aleksi Arpiainen is the CEO of TT Gaskets in the third generation. According to him, the success of a family business is fueled by continuous development and innovation. In the blog, Aleksi sheds light on his thoughts on where the world of gaskets is going.