About: Mr. Rikard Kanmert - Chief Executive Officer
Rikard Kanmert is the CEO of Absortech International, a company that is a global leader in developing solutions to preventing moisture damages during long haul transportations. He has more than 20 years’ experience in helping customers reducing costs and running more profitable operations. Together with his team, he has developed a groundbreaking approach to solving moisture damage problems called ‘Peace of Moisture Mind®’ (POMM). POMM gives companies a full analysis and step by step solutions to how to identify and eliminate moisture problems in their logistics chain.
1. Tell us a little bit about the history of Absortech and its impact on the packaging industry and consumers.
Absortech roots go back to the early 90's when the innovator and Absortech founder Thomas Johansson realized calcium chloride (CaCl2) as an absorbing agent is more efficient than the existing clay and silica gel desiccants (moisture absorbers) used at the time. This led to the development of the unique Absorpole®, launched in the mid 90's. Ever since, the company has developed new ranges of calcium chloride-based desiccants, AbsorRange™.
Starting by operating out of Sweden Absortech is now a very global company with ten own subsidiaries, from the US in the West to China in the East. Manufacturing takes place in own plants in Sweden and China. A strong partner network allows us to operate globally.
2. Can you shed some light on the eco- friendly products that the company manufactures?
The good thing with calcium chloride is it is naturally existing in nature; in fact, it is limestone. Therefore, it can be returned to nature. The same goes for clay whereas the lower grades of silica gel used for desiccants have been found to contains heavy metals and as a result, leading garment companies have banned the usage of silica gel.
At present desiccants, regardless of the absorbing agent (clay, silica gel or calcium chloride), contain plastics as the moisture absorbed needs to be captured inside the desiccant. Absortech is developing in the direction of using premier plastic materials and as a result, we normally do not make desiccants with ‘double layers’ of plastic (that normally must be used if cheaper plastic materials have to be used) that makes AbsorRange™ more environmentally friendly than most of our peers. We are currently running a project to further reduce the number of plastics and we hope to be able to bring this new range to the market shortly.
3. What are the unique benefits of moisture protection in terms of packaging products?
Desiccants absorb excess moisture inside a packaging (box, polybag or pallet) or a container. And without moisture, an array of moisture damages (mold, corrosion, bad smell, bad taste, etc.) can be terminated. Unfortunately, the general knowledge around desiccants is rather low and we often see alternative ways of mitigating risks by e.g. adding expensive surface treatments on metal components or by restoring goods by re-working it upon arrival. Regardless, these alternative ways are much more costly than good protection with desiccants. And, worst case the goods can’t be reworked and are therefore scrapped.
Another dilemma in the area of moisture prevention is that there is often a ‘responsibility vacuum’. Often not well-defined what department in an importing company is responsible. Further, international trade/shipping is referring to ‘Incoterms’. And a very common term is FOB (Free On Board) which means the importer is responsible for the goods once it has been loaded onto the vessel. Therefore, the importer has to trust that the exporter is aware of and has the knowledge on how to load a container ‘moisture damage safe’ or he has to give guidance and instructions.
4. Can you elaborate on "Peace of Moisture Mind" and AbsorSave™? How does it help in finding the right solution for preventing moisture damage?
A common misunderstanding in the industry is that: ‘let’s put a few desiccant bags inside and we are OK’. Unfortunately, it is more complicated than this. Moisture content in products and packaging material loaded as well as shipment season and shipping duration plays significant roles when defining the type of desiccants to be used. We, therefore, identified the need to put in place a rigid service or solution package with base in traditional continuous improvement management. Peace of Moisture Mind® (POMM) is the name of our process and we take the full loop from auditing the company loading to find improvement areas, make dimensioning and validate it in field tests, education of stakeholders and much more. AbsorSave™ is part of POMM where we calculate the savings our customers can generate as a result of protecting their cargo with AbsorRange™.
5. How's the exclusive partnership of MOST and Absortech Group in March this year, benefiting customers? And how confident are you that this partnership would bring value to customers/ is having a positive impact on the two respective companies’ development?
By running field tests on different protection levels and monitor this with the MOST technology we can provide comprehensive test reports to our customers. Our customers can see live the status of several criteria: relative humidity, temperature, shock, light, and location. After partnering up with MOST we have seen a radically increased demand from our customers to understand their status.
6. Often sustainability results in higher investment costs. How do you deal with this cost sensitivity?
We don’t see this conflict! Protecting your cargo with desiccants is, in fact, a very good investment! Let’s illustrate this by an example: The purchase value of a container is $100 000. Typically, value is added to the products upon arrival or they may be re-sold meaning the true value is higher than the purchase value, let’s say $200 000. Now, if you experience as little as 1% moisture damage that value becomes $2 000. The cost to protect a container is often in the area of $100. So, it is very good insurance. The example is for one container only. Do the maths for 10 000 containers and the amounts become substantial...!
Besides, there are other ‘hidden costs’ saved as the costs for potential scrapping, labor cost to deal with the problem, etc. Last but not least, the environment is saved as the products don’t have to be scrapped. And don’t have to be re-produced.
7. Where do you see the industry going in regards to packaging and how would you like Absortech to play in that growth?
In the area of moisture damage prevention, there is a substantial knowledge gap. Further, upper management is not aware of the amounts at stake. If they were, this area would be a top management concern. With excellent and environmentally safe products and a proven solution platform (POMM), Absortech has what it takes to take a global lead in increasing this knowledge.
The benefit for customers and society?
Improve EBIT • Protect BRAND • Save the ENVIRONMENT