Klaimber Person Lifting Chair’s journey from an idea to a commercial product
Founded in 2018, Kailamed is a company that designs and manufactures assistive devices and whose mission is to empower as many people as possible to live independent, active and equal lives – regardless of weakened physical abilities, various disabilities or medical conditions.
Kailamed has developed the Klaimber Person Lifting Chair, which helps people with diminished or weakened physical abilities get up from the floor safely, easily and independently. Klaimber is always ready for use, works without electricity and can be used alone. Getting up with Klaimber happens with a gentle motion of the upper body, tilting your centre of gravity to the left and right.
Optotec is proud and delighted to be part of Klaimber’s journey.
From a product idea to a prototype
Klaimber’s story began roughly five years ago when Kailamed’s CEO Marko Kailasuo talked with Salme Niemi, who suffered from polio when she was a child, about the everyday challenges brought along by her weakened physical abilities. Salme said that when she falls on the floor, she can get up by piling books in turns one-at-a-time under her right and left buttock, making each pile taller book by book. To Marko, this sounded like hard work and even dangerous and made him ponder if there truly is no better and safer way to get up from the floor.
This led to the development of the person lifting chair that is nowadays known as Klaimber. The first prototype of Klaimber saw the light of day in summer 2017. That prototype was based on hydraulic power transmission technology, but this solution was not considered to be satisfactory after all as a product containing hydraulic oil was regarded as impractical for use at home.
Marko discussed the case with his engineer friend Heikki Alakontiola, who started to investigate whether the device could be based on mechanical power transmission technology. In spring 2018, a patent application for the technology was submitted and when the patent was secured, a company called Kailamed was founded around the product idea. Heikki started to develop Klaimber’s prototype based on mechanical power transmission in his garage workshop. At the early design stages, he made numerous experiments with the various ways of building the lifting mechanism. Finding optimal components was also a process in itself.
Turning the prototype into a production version
In early 2020, Klaimber’s prototype had reached a stage that it was finally time to get the product into mass production. At this stage, the decision was made to involve Optotec, a company with solid productionisation expertise, in Klaimber’s development and give it the responsibility for getting the product factory-ready.
“Many of those who are developing their first product believe that when the prototype and drawings are ready, 90% of the work is done. In reality, there is still an enormous amount of work left after that. So, Optotec played a very significant role in getting our product ready for production and entry into the market,” says Kailasuo.
Cooperation between Kailamed and Optotec started with a light situation overview, which determined the product’s initial status and the actions required by the move into the mass production stage. On the basis of the overview, small improvements were made to the design of the product and the drawings were finetuned with regard to material choices, component coding and tolerances. In addition to the drawings, the results of Optotec’s work included the technical documentation, such as manufacturing and assembly drawings, needed in the manufacturing of the product. Production testing guidelines were also created in cooperation with Kailamed’s Quality Manager.
Supporting the production ramp-up
In August 2020, Optotec’s CEO travelled to the factory in Central Europe to supervise the manufacturing of Klaimber’s pre-series and the durability testing. At that point, a pre-series of ten products was manufactured and the product was tested according to the defined testing guidelines.
It is important to manufacture a pre-series before the mass production stage because only at the manufacturing stage can you see how the solutions created on the designer’s desktop work in practice. For instance, it may happen that the factory cannot execute something in the way the designer intended even though, in theory, it should be possible. For this reason, being on site at the factory when the production is ramped up is a significant advantage: seeing the finished product with your own eyes immediately when it comes from production makes it considerably easier to notice potential problems. It is also much quicker and more convenient to contemplate solutions when you are around the same table as the factory personnel.
When Klaimber’s pre-series was manufactured, some change needs were still detected in Klaimber’s design, drawings and production testing guidelines. After this, the drawings were still finetuned with regard to tolerances, among other things, to make the product as functional and easy to manufacture as possible.
Starting mass production and entering into the market
In late 2020, Klaimber was ready for mass production and the product entered into the market in early 2021. The product is now sold through the reseller network to both private individuals and the public sector. At the moment, Klaimber’s main markets are the Nordic countries and the product has also been sold in the Netherlands and even in New Zealand. Thanks to its universal nature, the product holds the potential for large international markets. The product is protected with a patent in Finland and China and its patent is pending in the European EPO countries, Japan and Australia.
The journey continues
It is part of product development’s nature that a product is never ready. With Klaimber, too, the goal is to continuously improve the product on the basis of user feedback, among other things.
“Some proposed changes are possible, some are impossible. When we get a product development idea, we ask Optotec if it is feasible. From Optotec, we always get an expert answer about whether a change is doable and how much work it would require. Optotec also tells us directly if a certain change is not possible or reasonable and then offers alternative ways to make the change. There are also industry players that lightly make promises about everything being possible, which is why I appreciate Optotec’s honest and straightforward way of working,” notes Kailasuo.
Read more about Klaimber: https://www.kailamed.fi/en/our-products/www.kailamed.fi/klaimber