Built everything from scratch
Two men who have been with Comsys from day one are Dan Liljengren and Jonas Persson. Today Dan is Head of Research and Innovation, and Jonas is Head of Products and Quality.
“We basically started with a blank sheet of paper,” says Dan, “building ADF technology step-by-step into what it is today.” The fact that everything about ADF, including systems design, all software development, etc., has been done 100% in-house in Lund is something both Dan and Jonas feel is quite an accomplishment. But it would take many tough years, and a couple of chance turns, before anyone else would recognize the value of what was taking shape there.
Breakthroughs in unexpected places
“At first we actually made the mistake of thinking that Sweden was our market,” says Dan, recalling how impossible it was to find any interest at home. Finally in 2009, after a colleague traveled around Europe exploring different exhibitions and forums, connections with a couple of German partners were made and the ball began to roll after years of hardly budging. This turned out to be a major turning point as well as the embryo to what is today a worldwide network of more than 150 partners on five continents. "That’s why I sometimes joke about Germany being our domestic market,” says Dan.
Another pivotal point came a few years later after a Jonas and another colleague crisscrossed the U.S. to see what opportunities might be found there. “That’s when we would learn, quite by chance actually, that ships could be an interesting market. And even better,” Dan says, “it turned out that shipbuilders already understood that active filters were the way forward – they really liked the technology.”
In retrospect, these two strokes of good luck proved to be huge for Comsys’s development. “Eventually customers began knocking at our door instead of the other way around,” says Dan, “and we no longer felt like we were banging our heads against the wall.”
From project- to product-oriented
Comsys’s first ADF deliveries took place in 2003. They were bulky, liquid-cooled ADF P600 installations, and they were more project than product. “It was during that time,” says Jonas, “when going from site to site, doing measurements and working things out, that we were able to get a picture of what we would need to bring to the market. And it was definitely something smaller.”
The result was the first generation ADF P300. “The P300 was our first product that was 100% adapted to what industries truly need, and our first air-cooled product,” says Jonas. That was the point when Comsys went from being a project-oriented company, to product-oriented. “From that point on everything was designed with mass production in mind, i.e. standardized, modular and both air- and liquid-cooled versions using same components,” adds Dan.
Putting quality to the test
After realizing the potential that the marine and offshore sectors presented, everyone knew it wouldn’t be easy. Plunging into them would be difficult due to the highly demanding marine standards required for maritime projects and products. “In fact, there were those who advised us against even trying,” says Jonas. But in 2013 Comsys was awarded DNV project certification, paving the way for launching ADF at sea.
A second highly challenging quality achievement came a year later when working towards UL certification for the US market. “No one who was working here in 2014 will ever forget the weeks leading up to that milestone,” says Dan. “They were grueling.”
The next 20
Looking back Rickard Jacobson says Comsys has already learned all the ‘Don’ts’ along the way, something he believes will serve the company well moving forward. “We have a unique understanding of electrical power networks and we see how power problems will only increase given all the challenges with renewables and new demands on grids.”
With the opening up of a second production site in the US earlier this year, Comsys now has production on two continents, which Rickard says will be instrumental in reaching the type of exponential growth the company has in its sights.
“By the time we celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2026, we intend to be doing 5 times as much business as we are today. We’re the technology leader, we know how to make things easy for partners and end users, and we feel more ready than ever to reap the rewards of everything we’ve worked so hard for up until now.”
Largest so far
DanTysk offshore wind farm, North Sea; 4 x ADF P700 Statcom units at substation connecting 80 wind turbines (2007-2015)
Cross River Rail, Brisbane, Australia; 19 x ADF P300 for massive tunnel boring project under Brisbane (ongoing)
Made in USA
Volvo Car plant, South Carolina, USA; The first ADF P300 units produced in Atlanta for compensating entire plant (ongoing)