“The basics of our toys are fundamentally the same as they were when I started in the 1970s, but today we have a much longer list of toys and supplements to our basic toy models. The biggest difference between then and now is that now we conduct more than 1,000 tests a year where we check for chemicals and quality to ensure that BRIO toys are safe for use by children. This is due to the stricter legal requirements.” says Göran Kullberg.
“When the first standard came in 1975 it consisted of 4 sides. Today we have directives and standards with thousands of sides of legal text to comply with. Testing equipment has improved beyond imagination and today we can detect substances in quantities so small that you can start a discussion whether they even exist at all,”
As Head of Quality, Göran is responsible not only for ensuring that all toys comply with all legislation and regulations established by authorities in the more than 20 countries in which BRIO is present. He is also responsible for implementing fundamental changes in the materials that BRIO uses in its products if this can further improve quality and safety.
“In 2012 we decided to change the surface treatment of all metal parts that we use in our train models to ensure that they will be as free of nickel release as possible. This meant that we managed to lower nickel release by more than 96%,” says Göran. He adds: “This process took more than two years as we had around 1500 different metal parts.”
BRIO also managed to lower the migration of organotins from 1/100 to 1/1000 of the limits established by the authorities.
“It might sound like a waste of time for us to lower a value that is already much lower than the regulatory limits, but we think it makes sense to do whatever we can to lower chemical content in toys. It’s a continuous process,” Göran explains. “At the moment we are working on a thorough analysis of the different lacquer types we use. People often think water-based lacquer is the best and most safe to use, but that’s not necessarily true. Water as well as solvents are merely carriers of the paint and will disappear when the paint dries. The main risk is still in the different pigments used.
We also have to consider durability and quality. That’s why we test rigorously so our decisions are always fact-based,” Göran adds.
Göran Kullberg has been Global Head of CSR and Quality at BRIO since 2006, but his tenure with BRIO goes all the way back to 1978 where he first started working with the production of wooden parts. From the middle of 1980s he has been responsible for running the BRIO factory. In this period of time BRIO has increased its size and the production methods have undergone a tremendous development. Göran has recently represented the toy industry in a European expert group under the European Union on “Product Traceability”.