Proventia aims for a zero-emission world
This Finnish company, a specialist in clean air technologies, is growing fast as its electric vehicle and battery test solutions are entering markets around the world.
You don’t necessarily need to look far to find new, successful business ideas. Sometimes observing your own needs is all it takes.
This was the lesson learnt by Proventia, a Finnish technology company that offers products and services for emission control and electric vehicles testing.
Founded in 1994, the firm had specialised in emission control solutions for work machines and retrofit exhaust after-treatment systems, which are devices that are fitted into vehicles and machines that are already in traffic to reduce their emissions.
A few years ago, the company needed to set up a new testing laboratory, but there was a problem: “We simply didn’t have enough room,” says Jari Lotvonen, the company’s CEO. “We had no other choice but to build a test laboratory solution that could be placed outside the company building.”
This led to the realisation that other companies might have a similar need and thus be interested in Proventia’s compact solution. So in 2015, the firm added test laboratories to its product portfolio. “So in a sense, our test solution products are a spin-off from our own test lab,” Lotvonen says.
Advantages of a modular system
Initially the firm offered test laboratories that focused on combustion engine testing, but it soon became clear that there was also strong demand for test solutions for car batteries and hybrid systems. “The area of electric car battery testing is really hot right now,” Lotvonen says.
What makes Proventia’s test laboratories attractive to many clients is the fact that they are built as modular systems. This allows for a high level of flexibility since the facilities can be established outdoors. Moreover, setting up the modular laboratory can be done in days, and, if needed, the laboratory can be relocated just as easily.
The biggest client segment for these test solutions are companies that provide testing, inspection and certification services. In August, Proventia announced that it has signed a contract with Intertek, a major actor in this space, to deliver a modular electric vehicle testing centre in Milton Keynes, England. Once the centre is delivered next year, it will be the largest independent electric vehicle powertrain testing facility in the UK.
Other firms that are looking at test solutions are car and automotive parts manufacturers, which rely on testing to develop and parameterise their components.
“Generally speaking, consumers these days want a broader range of different types of vehicles,” Lotvonen says. “We benefit from this, since the need for various types of testing is also becoming more widespread.”
Battery-power not enough for the industry
According to Lotvonen, the company’s sales are rising across the board, and its market is very international: currently over 85 per cent of Proventia’s sales are exports, of which the great majority go to Europe.
Since adding test solutions to its portfolio, the firm has been growing rapidly: at the moment, it has a staff of 150 (up from 80 last year). About 20 of the personnel are based in the Czech Republic, where the company opened a factory in 2018, with the rest working at the main offices in Oulu.
Because of the generally heightened awareness about the need to control emissions and pollution, electric cars and machines are only set to become more common. But Lotvonen points out that the hype around electric cars should not distract from the fact that a broad range of energy sources, including diesel, will still be needed in the future, especially when it comes to powering industrial equipment.
“Industrial machines need far more power than regular cars, and batteries simply can’t provide it,” he says. “For example, it will take a long time before farmers can use battery-powered tractors to plough their fields.”
Text: Teemu Henriksson
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