Startup companies are often built on brilliant ideas. Realizing your potential, however, is a lot easier if a well-established company such as Trelleborg takes on a wider role than simply being a provider. “When the owner and founder of Smart Rail, Johan Kohmann, first contacted me and explained his concept, I was impressed,” says Peter Somvall, Market Development Manager within Trelleborg Industrial Solutions.
“Instead of simply selling a rubber profile, I became more deeply involved in his business, connected with his other providers and helped to make sure that we developed the best possible solution together.” The Smart Rail system takes safety in glass railings to a whole new level, while at the same time enhancing aesthetic qualities and making the railings much easier to install and maintain. It’s a module system, using a ‘Lego’ style principle for joining the glass panels together without tools. Compared with other solutions, the aluminum rails can be placed much farther apart. “The idea behind Smart Rail comes from realizing a need for better security when it comes to glass balcony railings,” says Kohmann, who started working on the Smart Rail project in 2010 after retiring from his job as an official valuer of machinery and building constructions. “Having an engineering background, I was convinced that there was a market for safer products, provided you set up stringent demands and could document that you could meet them.” Using glass that is tempered, laminated and preheated, aluminum rails that meet Norwegian safety standards and a special sealing profile from Trelleborg, the patent pending Smart Rail system is now on the market.
The glass railing offers unequaled safety and has been third-party tested to withstand a force more than three times greater than regulations stipulate. “The support from Trelleborg has been key to getting this far,” says Kohmann. “We have set up the common task of achieving excellence and being the best. Trelleborg’s backing goes beyond the product. They help us develop our market. I’m doing brain robbery, free of charge!”
Somvall comments: “As a sales representative, there is great potential in helping to develop a customer’s business as their sparring partner. You can achieve so much more working together.” Seasoned Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark Robinson has also realized Smart Rail’s great potential and serves as a board member. “Our collaboration with Trelleborg is a true win-win situation,” he says. “Trelleborg help us in getting the word out while achieving an improved offer to their customers, with a solution they would not have access to without our mutual collaboration.
The potential market for Smart Rail is huge, since the railings both solve a safety issue and look much better than other rails. Our close relationship with Trelleborg is vital for reaching the market.” Kohmann comments, “We are now developing a complementary system for glassing in balconies, using the same simple, ‘Lego’ style solution to click glass panes directly onto our railing.”