World class, user-focused products

It all started 50 years ago with a stroke of genius and a small business based in the High Coast of Sweden. Today Permobil has operations in 70 countries and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of products for advanced rehabilitation. They make products that make everyday life easier for people with disabilities.

Technical solutions that helps

“Permobil was one of the first companies ever to manufacture power wheelchairs. Yet the true key to our success has been our focus on helping power wheelchair users to achieve better quality of life. Our focus is not on merely producing standard wheelchairs. Instead, we manufacture power wheelchairs that are customized to suit the unique needs of each individual user. We combine our user focused philosophy with cutting-edge technology and product development to create attractive products,” explains Rikard Rönn, President of Business Unit Power Products.

Visitors to Permobil´s site in the High Coast are met by dedicated employees who love to talk about user needs and new technology. The company’s combination of commitment and expertise has yielded impressive results. Time and time again, Permobil has shown the world that when it comes to technical solutions, its products stand head and shoulders above the rest. One example of the company’s innovative approach is Permobil’s development of alternative methods for controlling and steering power wheelchairs. Rather than using his/her hands, the user can instead steer with another body part, such as the chin.

On its path to international success, Permobil has consistently employed intelligent and innovative technological solutions and has always remained focused on the user. The company’s founder, Dr. Per Uddén, had no ambitions for commercial success when he first sketched his idea for an electrically-powered wheelchair. His goal was simply to create better living conditions for his patients. He believed that “every disabled person has the right to have his or her handicap compensated as far as possible by aids with the same technical standard as those we all use in our everyday lives.” Per Uddén’s words still inspire the company’s many employees.

“We are a completely different company today than we were when we first started out. Now we’re a global enterprise that has grown enormously, and we’ve recruited hundreds of new employees. But there’s still a relevant reason to keep our product development and production division for power wheelchairs here in Timrå – because this is where it all began. We’re reminded every day that we’re here to help improve people’s lives,” says Rikard Rönn.

Business Unit Power Products launches about one major new product per year, and every time it does so, the technology gets smarter and the user-focused solutions get even better. Rikard Rönn believes that there are several particularly great opportunities for implementing new technology:

“We also strive to prevent negative complications that can affect power wheelchair users. For example, many users develop pressure sores. Looking at that issue, we can see how technology can help to tell the user that it’s time to change his or her sitting position, in order to avoid developing a sore. There’s great potential for developing a technical solution that helps the individual user – but which can also save the health care system money.”

Rikard Rönn emphasizes that Permobil is always interested in making smart new investments. A few years ago, the company acquired two US based companies, ROHO and TiLite, to strategically complement its existing business operations. Although Rikard Rönn is keeping mum about the details of the company’s future investment plans, this makes him all the more eager to discuss Permobil’s developing markets.

“We will continue to grow, and see great potential for expansion in Asia, especially China. We’ve scarcely scratched the surface there, but I’m confident that in about 10 years’ time, China will be one of our largest markets.” 

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