From idea to production - the Sferes™ Story
India, Mexico & Brazil
Introduced Qualus-as-a-Service (QaaS)™
As the world started re-opening post covid measures, tanneries needed a simpler solution to adopt Sferes as a sustainable solution amidst the market uncertainty. So we launched the Qualus-as-a-Service (QaaS) model to allow tanneries to start using Sferes with a low upfront investment, with the rest spread across 6 months.
The QaaS model is now operational in key tanning clusters in India, Mexico, and Brazil and will be introduced to other major tannery clusters starting in 2023.
System Enhancements during Covid lockdown
Covid had a devastating impact on many industries, including leather. During this period, as we could not engage with customers as expected, we cut costs and focused on improving our Sferes Cleaning Station to make it lower-cost, smaller, and more efficient, winning a key Innovate UK grant to continue our development.
After demonstrating the system works effectively and developing our first full-scale production system in LEFARC, we wanted to accelerate development. We completed a management buyout from Xeros, which allowed us additional flexibility in the solutions offered to tanneries. Trials were conducted for the first time with a tannery in Brazil and by the end of 2019 we prepared for expansion in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and Mexico
Further validation across industries
Wider industry validation
During 2017 and 2018, we worked with 20 tanneries in various regions, using our technology to make leather for shoe manufacturing, high-end fashion, upholstery, and waterproof leathers. Tested on aniline, finished leather, full grain and nubuck. With more than 100 different demonstrations with tanneries under our belt, we have proved our system can produce better quality leather, using less water and chemicals than traditional processes.
Testing the technology in action
Testing its effectiveness in production
Multiple production scale trials conducted at Wollsdorf, a leading automotive tannery based in Austria, proved that the system can work in a production environment with commercial retanning recipes.
2013 - 2016
From idea to refinement
Building on a scientist’s’ idea of using polymer spheres in tannery drums to enhance delivery of chemicals to hides, we set up a research facility at the Institute of Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT) at the University of Northampton to further investigate.
Early lab trials were successful, so we filed for patents for the system in tanning and retanning.
We worked in the lab to optimise the system to reduce water and chemicals while improving the quality of leather.