In the beginning of May we visited Metso’s Tampere factory with 11 investors for a tour of the new Speedline assembly line that came on stream in January. The EUR 1 million investment is both an investment in production efficiency and safety as well as in supporting a cultural change that aligns with our strategy and enables quicker response to market changes and a more agile operational performance.
During our visit, the Speedline assembly line rolled out mobile crushers for four customers located on three continents: North America, South America and Europe. Although the products look similar, there are many differences, as each product is customized for the customer’s purpose. One was equipped with a jaw crusher for larger rocks, while another was equipped with a cone crusher for smaller stones. Some of the machines were equipped with water hoses to minimize dust enabling the use in urban environments. Lokotrack is a prime example of combining standard products with customized technology. Around 80 percent of the product components come from subcontractors, so supply chain management is extremely critical. However, anything related to crushing technology is produced in-house, as Metso is the expert there.
For Metso and its Tampere factory, the new Speedline assembly line is also part of a more extensive cultural change. With the new production line, supervisors can monitor the output of the entire line more effectively, which has clearly improved communication. The takti-time time is now 6 hours, two hours shorter than before. We’re also pursuing improved work safety: contrary to the previous practice, we now have a separate bridge for visitors. In other words, we don’t disrupt production, and production no longer needs to slow down or stop during visits. The new production line also gives employees more of a say in things. When the line was being planned, the employees were able to contribute by explaining how work efficiency could be improved and what types of conditions would improve their well-being at work. Their opinions were taken into account.
Demand for mobile crushers has increased steadily in recent years. In 2015, a total of 400 mobile crushers were produced in Tampere. That number will increase to around 600 in 2018. Metso is known for its strong market position in mobile crushers, and we intend to keep things that way.
Towards the end of the tour, we visited one of Metso’s rock laboratories, where hundreds of rock samples are studied each year. Samples are sent to Tampere from all over the world and from all continents, except Antarctica. A typical batch of rocks goes through a three-phase test to determine the hardness, the crushability and the abrasiveness of the rock types. This lets us build equipment that meets the customer’s specific needs, with just the right settings.
Metso’s Tampere factory seeks to combine modern production efficiency and flexibility with solutions for the future. It’s important to invest in improving basic technologies as well as in entirely new types of innovation. The rock laboratory in Tampere, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary in May, is a good example of this thinking. It is where all of Metso’s existing crushing products, their performance and suitability for various rock types can be tested. Cooperation is active with customers as well as universities, because major operators and smaller ones alike need Metso’s help.
The use of rock as a material is increasing steadily around the world – by some 4–5 percent annually – and Metso wants its share of this growth. Spikes in demand occur during major construction projects, such as those related to the Olympic Games. Otherwise, demand is distributed relatively evenly around the world, as investments in infrastructure are local. Consolidation in the sector in recent years has changed Metso’s customer base to some extent, with demand from major customers increasing. Of course, we’re equally dedicated to serving smaller customers. So what are we focusing on at the moment? The answer is clear: on product development and the ability to introduce new products, on increasing our production capacity globally, and on continuing recruitment in Finland and elsewhere in the world.
I would like to thank LocalTapiola Asset Management, Nordea Asset Management and Carnegie for the visit. And special thanks to Metso’s excellent hosts: Kimmo Vesamäki, Ville Seppälä and Keijo Viilo.