Creating Safety Since 1987
Environics history dates back to 1987, when the company was established in Mikkeli, Finland. Its fundation resulted from the completion of a R&D cooperation project with the Finnish Defence Forces.
The development project aimed at creating a totally “Made in Finland” automatic gas detector, and Environics served to ensure the continuation of the development, manufacturing, marketing, and sales of the new M86 gas detector.
In 2017, Environics’ handheld chemical detector ranked 1st place for the best innovations in South-East Finland in the last 100 years.
Throughout the years, Environics has known 3 different facilities locations (all in Mikkeli), has been led by 3 different CEOs, delivered to over 50 countries, and saved countless lives.
We decided to deep dive into Environics’ dusty archives, and during 2022 we will compile photos from the past, each one of them telling a story, a short chapter of:
Unframed diapositives representing M86/A chemical agent detector during testing and development. Quoting an old brochure “The M86/A System is intended for detection, warning and monitoring of chemical agents in the field and in permanent installations. M86/A ia approved and used by Finnish Defence Forces.”
Important to note that M86/A as portable device was meant for military operations only.
M86/A continued to be the focus of Environics Oy business during 1988. This unique brochure which layout combines photography, typography, and hand drawn illustration elements, showcases some the typical applications of thw M86/A system: “On-the-field”, “Vehicles, airplanes, ships”, “Fortifications, airports”, “Civil defence”, “Accidents”, and “Environmental protection”. These categories were taken directly from original promotional materials.
According to the Infantry Yearbook of 1989 (Jalkaväen Vuosikirja p.88) M86 was used in the field during 1989 by the Finnish Defence Forces for chemical sampling and monitoring. The device is described as “…small and light, suitable to be carried with you, among other things, for team usage during reconnaissance patrols. When connected to a central unit and remote alarms, the device can “guard” a wide area. The alarm limit for nerve gas is 0.1-0.2 mg / m.”
The M90 Chemical Warfare Agent Detector starts to be developed in the early 90’s, as an upgraded version of the M86. The M90 aimed at enhancing the mobility and individual safety of the operator. As stated in NBC – Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Warfare on the Modern Battlefield, “the M90 (…) is light enough and sufficiently compact in design to allow it to be used as either a stand-alone remote device or to be operated by one person. (…) It has a low false alarm rate and can be interfaced with local command, control and communication systems to provide a comprehensive chemical alerting system”.
Environics also begins to expand its international visibility by attending industry dedicated exhibitions. Back in 1991, a team travelled from Finland to the UAE, to showcase Environics solutions at the Dubai Airshow. This “open to business professionals and industry only” biennial air show usually takes place in January, but in 1991 the show was moved to November due to the outbreak of the Gulf War, and it had a strong military focus given events in the Middle Eastern region. Environics stand utilized a previous branding, with an “e” letter with a cloud shaped counter, indicating a stronger emphasis on the “environment” rather than on the “electronics”.
In the Summer of 1992, Environics Oy was showcasing chemical warfare agent detectors M90 and M86/A at the 4th International Symposium on Protection against Chemical Warfare Agents, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, from 8 to 12 of June. This as also the occasion of the official public lauch of M90. Environics has been a regular exhibitor at this symposium that happens every third year since then. This event was initially focused only on Chemical Warfare Agents, but throughout the years expanded its reach to full CBRN matters. The photo represents Sales & Marketing Manager Mr. Ilkka Sintonen, the only fulltime sales person by this time.
Environics keeps on showcasing M86/A and M90 Chemical Warfare Agent Detectors in industry dedicated shows, mostly focused on defence area, such as the US Army Worldwide Chemical Conference, which took place at the US Army Chemical School. It is also around this time that accessories for the M90 CWA Detector System such as the M90-PA (personal alarm units) and M90-TM (transmitters for wireless networks and individual warning) are released, supporting the premise that “successful military oprations are based on high mobility and quick decisive action. NBC protection and warning must also be mobile and respond quickly to provide maximum individual protection”.
On the Spring of 1994, Environics was introducing the MGD-1, an IMS Multi-Gas Detector for organic gases originated in industrial hygiene, fugitive emissions and toxic waste. The MGD-1 featured sub-ppm detection levels of a wide range of gases — it was programmable to detect up to 30 gases simultaneously — it had a fast detection time, could be used as portable of fixed installation point and had bidirectional rs-232 communication for computer or network linkage. At the same time, the trade show exhibiting equipment still included M90 Chemical Warfare Agent Detector together with the generic slogan: “Gas Detectors, The Sixth Sense for a Safer World”.
Environics chemical detectors were showcased in IDEX ’95, Abu Dhabi’s second International Defense Exhibition & Conference, that took place from 19th to 23rd March 1995. It is interesting to once again point out the usage of the initial branding, based on the visual identity guide.
In June 1996 Environics participated in Eurosatory Arms Show at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris. In this year Eurosatory reached full international scale, having exhibitors from all over the world (723 exhibitors from 33 countries), even though its first edition dates back to 1992.
Environics is well known in the CBRN industry business by the effectiveness and accuracy of its in-house developed technoligies. This is only possible due to high-skilled dedicated staff with strong collaboration bounds that last for decades. Like “veteran” Bid Manager Ismo Loukoila, in this photo represented in his early years as a Test Engineer, thoroughly checking M90 at the company’s reasearch lab in Työmiehenkatu — Environics first headquarters address — to ensure the device’s highly quality functionality.
Environics, like most Finnish companies, has long tradition in hosting recreational days for the staff. And if there is one activity that never gets old fashioned in Finland, that is the sauna evenings. Sauna is a time for networking and bonding in an informal environment, which is vital for employee relations. In a Finnish sauna, everyone takes off their business clothes so hierarchies are essentially dissolved, and all are free to speak as equals. The only leadership is about deciding who gets to pour water to make the “löyly“!
On Friday 24th of December of 1999 local newspaper Länsi-Savo mentioned Environics as a company “aiming to be market leader”.
At the turn of the millenium Environics was expanding its operations to new areas of application of its in-house developed detection technologies. Environics chemical detection devices were standing out in the market due to their compact size, durability and no use of consumables, such as semiconductors that need to be replaced frequently.
By the year 2000 Environics was a well settled 13-year old company. While others were fearing the potential consequences of the “millenium bug”, Environics staff was actively developing and producing M90 detectors based on a solid and proven in-house IMS technology. As a growing organization, Environics started to create opportunities for students and freshly graduated engineers from the local Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences.
The R&D team celebrated the launch of Environics -to be flagship product, ChemPro100, by attending the CBRNe Protection Symposium in Stockholm. ChemPro100, nowadays showcased at the Infantry museum in Mikkeli, introduced many useful features that define the core of Environics product design until today such as the unique trend view display, shortly before the global security paradigm has been affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks..
In order to provide a better and local service to an important sales area such as North America, Environics also opened a subsidiary office in the USA, already in the late 90s. It all started as a one-man-company, and in 2002 the business led by Michael Phillips (the gentleman in dark shirt on the left side) was already running smoothly. In the photo, a meeting taking place in Great Falls VA office in November.
In the subsequent years, Environics specialists were actively promoting ChemPro100 in trade shows and industry dedicated events around the globe. ChemPro100 was advertised as “A real multi-user device for MIL UN, civil defence, various authorities, and industrial use.” featuring a “User-friendly interface with a large display providing exact information“.
Environics detectors are 100% developed in-house, from the IMS detection tecnology to their lodging shell. An internal Research & Development team is always working on complementary accessories to expand the capabilities of products already in use. This team comprises a wide variety of experts such as physicists, chemists, hardware designers, software designers, etc.
Throughout the years, Environics has had a close and consistent collaboration with the Finnish Defence Forces, namely through the CBRN Technology Programme — a Development Programme set by the FDF to create new CBRN capabilities — in which Environics had a lead role from 2004 to 2007, among the organisations involved in the development of the new solutions. Dedicated encounters where the military forces met the involved organisations were held under this programme.
Developing state-of-the-art technology calls for a well motivated team. As mentioned before, Environics keeps up with hosting regular recreational days for leveraging team building and strengthen the bonds among staff members, in a hierarchy free environment. Along with sauna, barbequing outdoors — regardless of weather conditions — is probably the second most popular activity for the Finns to relax and enjoy quality time together. Bring out those “makkarat” (Finnish word for sausages)!
Environics has been consistently present at industry dediced shows, ranging from more commercial events to those niche technology oriented gatherings such as the CBW (nowadays CBRNe) Protection Symposium organized by the Swedish Defence Research Agency.
This photo features 2 of our most seasoned sales team members: Area Managers Ahti Luukkonen and Krister Liljegren showcasing Environics CBRN Monitoring solutions at the 9th International CBW Protection Symposium, in Gothenburg.
This photo taken somewhere in the vast deserts of the Middle East aims at highlighting a former member of Environics staff: Project Engineer Jouni Aalto. Jouni has had an impressive long path within the company’s history, having collaborated with Environics Oy for over 30 years, therefore being himself a cornerstone for the development and implementation of this organization’s solutions. Throughout 3 decades Jouni wore many hats, being the last one “historian”, as the bearer and author of many photos shared in this compilation.
Thank you Jouni!
This amazing shot was taken in October 2009 during the BELCOAST exercise that gathered military units and technology experts to showcase state-of-the-art solutions. Environics was one of the 160 participant companies in this NATO sponsored critical infrastructure protection technology demonstration that marked the fifth anniversary of NATO’s Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work. Our team was represented by experienced CBRN professionals Timo Suutarinen and Marko Tanninen demonstrated and made a short video about the use of a Mobile CBRN Monitoring System.
Environics Team has always been active in several projects for installing dedicated CBRN Monitoring systems into mobile and stationary platforms – such as vessels, buildings, or armoured / light vehicles. As a “partner for the whole system lifespan” in most of the situations, this requires that a team of CBRN experts often travels to the installation site for better optimization, for instance considering local harsh environment conditions. Even though details of the ongoing project at the time this photo was taken are unknown, one can easily tell it was not a Naval / Maritime case.
However, throughout the years, Environics has proven to be a reliable partner for Naval & Maritime protection, having installed many fixed ship CBRN Monitoring systems, like this one represented in the photo on the left, where our — at the time — SW Team Manager Mikko Kilkki takes part of a commissioning in Italy. On the same year, we participated in Global Security Asia (GSA) 2011, held on March 15-17 in Singapore, just a few days after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, where obviously radiation threat discussions were the topic of the day.
By 2012, Environics business growth justified the moving of its facilities to the place where they have been now for the last 10 years (so far until 2022). Manufacturing, research & development, sales, laboratory are all located in the same building, allowing for the perfect synergies between teams, including the joint coffee breaks. On the left it is visible one of the laboratory cabinets being moved to the new headquarters, and on the right two members of the staff pose next to an industrial analyzer, a product line that has been discontinued in the meantime.
Environics has participated in projects and exercises for developing the response to CBRNE events. In 2013 as part of the DECOVY Project, Finnish authorities representing 13 different organizations practiced some joint activities in an exercise in the South Savo region. The aim of this mutual effort was to develop CBRN operations, to test the compatibility of the material and systems available and to boost and optimize collaboration between the different stakeholders.
As a member of the CBRN Finland, Environics showcaseed their handheld and CBRN system capabilities. Watch DECOVY Project video
In 2014, Environics achieves one of its landmark vehicle project collaborations when receiving a remarkable purchase order for several CBRN reconnaissance systems from the Turkish FNSS, a leading manufacturer and supplier of armoured combat vehicles and weapon systems. Whitin the scope of this project, Environics delivered CBRN Reconnaissance Systems including CBRN detection and identification capabilities for FNSS Special Purpose Wheeled vehicles.
So far, Environics has delivered / installed over 100 vehicle systems, to military and civil defence operators from several different countries.
Besides its strong bond to the military segment, by 2015 Environics had also established itself as a supplier of CBRN solutions for first responders and all the actors involved in civil protection. One of these remarkable solutions are the light vehicles for CBRN reconnaissance missions: a chassis independent container providing a mobile, secure workspace with NBC filtration, like the one in the picture. As in other projects, a team of CBRN specialists travels to the end-customer’s location after the delivery, to provide training onsite and to optimize the solution according to local environment conditions.
Planning a trip to Finland? Environics experienced CBRN specialists are also skilled tour guides. They have always been enthusiasts on hosting partners and customers locally, not only to show them Environics facilities, but also the wonders of Finnish nature. Here they are on their way to Lapland for Aurora Borealis spotting!
In 2017 Environics celebrated the 30th anniversary since its foundation in 1987 under the slogan “30 Years Creating Safety“. The date was marked by different events organized throughout the year for different audiences — owners, partners, staff, etc. The photos above refer to the wonderfull dinner-party organized for #EnvironicsTeam.
Service team on the road! As mentioned in the 2010 caption, having Environics as your CBRN “partner for the whole system lifespan” may mean that some day you will be standing in the hill station town of Lonavala, with a big smile on your face.
In 2019, and under the slogan “Only Fictional Heroes Accomplish Missions Alone” we launched our New Generation Handheld Chemical Detector — ChemProX — that would replace the company’s, so far, landmark product launched in the early 00’s, the ChemPro100i.
In order to better support our partner network spread across the globe, we try to organize annual Partner Days focused in different areas such as North America, Europe / Middle East, and APAC. For instance, in 2020 we hosted US Dealer Days in Round Rock, Texas.
Even though we value the time spent together and CBRN knowledge sharing during our annual Partner Days events, in 2021 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we held our first 100% on-line event. In fact, we held 3 sessions for fitting to different timezones. In between presentations, we thought it would be nice to share a live and traditional coffee break straight from the forests nearby our headquarters. Area Manager Krister Liljgren took the lead and warmed up all the participants day with a proper bonfire, dark roast coffee, and a very Finnish sense of humour.
The most remarkable moment of 2022 was undoubtly the announcement of Environics Oy’s acquisition by Bertin Technologies, on September 29th. This photo portraits Bruno Vallayer, President of Bertin Technologies, and Kirsi Hedman, CEO of Environics Oy, at Environics headquarters in Mikkeli, on the day of the announcement. By joining forces, we are aiming at creating an European leading player in CBRN detection, identification and monitoring equipment and systems, to counter and mitigate rising and unpredictable CBRN threats worldwide.