Specializing in wrapping of square bales, Cross Wrap Oy want to secure a smooth material flow for their customers, whether it comes to packing or unpacking. Solutions for automation and production lines increase efficiency in a packaging process and save costs as well as the environment: when the packaging material is only used where it is truly needed, less packaging waste is generated to be recycled.
The story of Cross Wrap began in 1992 when Kalle Kivelä, founder of the firm and inventor of the wrapping method, sketched the first wrapping device. The firm was officially founded in 1994 by Kalle and his wife Satu Kivelä.
– I grew up on a farm in Central Finland. My family raised sheep and cattle for sale. As for me, I went to work in a company importing farming machinery into Finland, and when the importing business slowed down in the 1990’s, I started to export Finnish round balers abroad. In 1992, I was at an agricultural fair in England where visitors asked for square bale wrappers. I knew that a good product was not yet available, and on my way home I started to figure out how a square bale should be wrapped. That’s how it started, and the first patent application was filed within the same year, Kivelä recalls.
PARTNER FOR INTERNATIONAL PATENTING
In 2022, the firm manufactures 3D wrapping devices and other solutions for automation and production lines relating to unpacking and binding for a total of four different business areas ranging from the paper industry to waste treatment. From the very beginning of the operation, it was clear that the firm would want to export products on a large scale abroad, too. Of course, it was necessary to obtain international patents for Kalle’s first invention as well as all the new innovations after that.
– Our original plan was expressly to export abroad. We knew that our patent agency should have broad enough shoulders to apply for international patents. In Finland, there are few such patent agencies. We then found Mika Laajalahti of Berggren, who has been our partner ever since, says Kivelä.
With product development over the years, Cross Wrap has obtained many different patents for their new innovations; in practice, all their products are in some way based on Cross Wrap’s own innovations. At the end of 2021, the firm was taken over by a new owner when Satu and Kalle decided to retire and sell the business of Cross Wrap. Cooperation with Berggren continues.
– It was about 30 years ago when we obtained our first patents. Since then, we have cooperated with Berggren, in principle, on all our patent matters. Whenever we come up with a new invention, we discuss it with them to find out whether it would be patentable and how we should proceed, tells Aki Paananen, Chief Operating Officer of Cross Wrap.
EASY AND STRAIGHTFORWARD PROCESS
Patent applications are processes which normally consist of many steps, and which sometimes take a long time. At Berggren, Mika as well as the specialists who work with patent matters of Cross Wrap put a great deal of effort in making the process as easy and straightforward as possible.
– Normally, after an international patent application has been filed, it is always examined by a local patent office. We may then receive office actions requesting for additional documents or information. We have an agreement with Berggren that they always provide us with their own proposal for an appropriate response in each situation, and we then review it together before filing, Paananen describes.
– It is always easy for us to contact them. We have a single contact person, Mika, who handles our cases. He is familiar to us, and he knows our firm, our machines and our patents. It is always easy to call Mika or to send him a message, no matter what time it is. He does not quickly send us an additional invoice, Paananen smiles.
NEW INNOVATIONS ARE CREATED TOGETHER
In the future, the operations of Cross Wrap will focus on high automation products and services related to them. Development work is carried out more and more in cooperation with customers, and new solutions are increasingly created around digitalization.
– In our business areas of waste, plastic, paper and board industries, global trends of circular economy and scaling are clearly visible. Centralized material treatment plants are established, which require more and more automation and modern technology. On the global level, material flows are carried more and more regionally, which generates multifaceted needs for the management of flows of goods in an environmentally friendly way. For us as a firm, this creates a lot of new customer interface and possibilities. When larger volumes are needed, then there is demand for production lines with lots of automation and application of technology in general, states Jukka Pennanen, CEO of Cross Wrap.
– Digitalization, in turn, is shown in that there is a need for clients to make use of data generated by the material flows, to smooth out the processes. Here, too, we see growth potential for us, which is why we are investing in the development of data and digitalization. It is our aim to act in a more and more comprehensive way, not only to supply machinery but also services relating to data and digitalization, Pennanen points out.
In the future, Cross Wrap wants to involve not only their personnel but also their customers in the development of new innovations. An innovation event, Invention Hunt®, was previously arranged with Berggren for the personnel and was found very productive; a similar event is envisaged for customers and other stakeholders as well.
– I believe that the future will be a time of joint innovation and doing things together and not only with our own people. That is why I see that the Invention Hunt® might be an interesting concept for our customers and, for example, technology partners as well. If Berggren were facilitating the work, I think that very interesting discussions might arise. I believe that something like this will be arranged, Pennanen says.
“WE CAN COUNT ON THAT THE WORK WILL BE DONE”
According to Kivelä, Pennanen and Paananen, the main benefits from working with Berggren are their full range of expertise, accessibility and reliability.
– Cooperation is good when one party understands what the other party is saying. Mika is a professional in his field and he understood what I was trying to say. And if he didn’t, he knew how to ask, Kivelä laughs.
Through Berggren, Cross Wrap also receives important information about other, competing patents on the market. This saves a lot of time and effort, particularly in situations in which a patent application would be too close to an existing patent.
– I find that their know-how is the greatest benefit for us. They have skilled personnel who knows how to dig up the information needed in each case. Over the years, we have built up a good relationship based on trust. We can count on our cases being managed well. One of the foundations of our cooperation is that this is easy for us and we can trust that the work will be done, Paananen says.
– We do not need to question whether things are moving on the background, or to micromanage in any way. To my eyes, the greatest benefit is this ease, Pennanen sums up.
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