In 1980, a new shift signed on. Under the management of Rune’s sons, Stefan, Olle and Anders Jonsson, the company changed its name to Kvänum Kök AB. Göran’s health had been poor for some time, and the following year he passed away. Göran was only 57 years old. Rune retired but remained in the office.
The three sons had begun working for the company during their summer holidays, while still in school. They knew the company like the back of their hands. Olle remembers how, in the 1970s, he and Stefan helped load 110 cubic metres of cupboards once a week. The car would come on a Friday afternoon. They worked until 7.30 pm, and after that rushed home to get ready to go out dancing. The following day, they continued loading.
The working week was around 52 hours long. That was before just-in-time. Now, the material is constantly on the road, ready for delivery. The logistics are computerised and the delivery is bang on time.
The brothers decided that the company needed a computer. The three of them travelled to Gothenburg to source one, but they did not really understand it and left empty-handed. Their old man was probably right. ‘We don’t need computers, they’re not very good,’ Rune had said. Today, he looks back and laughs. In the end, a Luxor ABC 80 was purchased. It became much easier to keep on top of the price lists. Gone were the days of the Original-Odhner desk calculator, tracing paper and blue thumbs.
‘And now, the computers do everything,’ says Rune. He and Göran once dreamed of a rational joinery. But had they, even in their wildest imagination, envisaged this development – automated lines of production, machines run by bar codes, robots so precise and meticulous in their movements that they could have served at the Nobel dinner? ‘No,’ Rune smiles and shakes his head.
When the order is placed, there is already a barcode. The code is a kind of gene sequence. With the help of the barcode, an individual kitchen can be identified at any point in the production process. All the data is stored. If anything in a kitchen needs replaced or replenished in the future, there will always be material. The stock is saved, and in moments they can produce pattern-matched oak veneer or a piece of ash with just the right graining.
If a machine in the assembly line broke in Rune’s day, a mechanic had to be flown in. It took a couple of days to mend a fault. Today, it takes hours. Somewhere in Europe, an operator at the machine supplier’s connects to the computer in the broken machine, via a modem. The fault is found, the software is fixed, and the machine is re-booted – long-distance emergency surgery.
Computers cannot do everything. Skilful hands are still needed to cut and sew veneers, paint with a brush and polish with a sanding block. Scrupulous professionals, who put the finishing touch on all the products, inspect with sensitive fingers and study with experienced eyes.