The Finnish summer was at its best this year, and the sun truly smiled down on holidaymakers. For Relicomp, the sun was already shining for quite some time before the summer. Sales have been very good, and on the eve of the summer holidays we were able to pay our employees the biggest bonuses in our history. This was indeed a nice way to start the summer holidays.
As has become tradition, the Relicomp factory was closed for three weeks in July. This is a time not only for holidays, but also for preparing the factory for autumn. Indeed, summer is always the busiest time for our facility maintenance department. All the machines and equipment in need of maintenance must be serviced within three weeks. We also have a large number of staff from external service companies and machinery suppliers doing maintenance work.
A slight setback to the plans for the summer, and also for the autumn, was the delay in the delivery of a new machine. The production department was scheduled to receive a post-press washing machine and an associated robot in the summer. The connections, facilities and other automation are in place, but the washing machine itself is missing. This is the first time we have had an investment where the schedule has failed and not all the pieces snap together seamlessly. The delay is a matter of a few weeks, but it has caused all kinds of reorganisation, scheduling and resourcing in our production department. Most importantly, the delay with the washing machine meant that we also had to postpone the automation of the large press. We decided to postpone the automation of the press until the autumn, so that we have time to fully deploy the washing machine and ‘teach’ its automation and robot all they need to know before the arrival of the press robot. It may well be that in the autumn we still have a lot of work ahead of us at the factory to get the whole package across the finish line.
Supply problems seem to have become more common with the pandemic, and there have been shortages of almost all purchasable materials since March–April. Unfortunately, the shortages have only worsened since the end of the summer holidays. We have to confirm the delivery of almost every part we order. As a rule, we are placing our orders earlier than required, as almost all deliveries are late and we cannot currently rely on delivery confirmations. This naturally causes additional work and trouble. In addition to the supply problems, rising prices are also a source of anxiety. Material prices started to soar right at the start of the year and it seems that they have not yet reached their peak.
Despite all the excitement and complications, Relicomp’s overall situation is very positive. Our own security of supply has long remained at 99.9%, and we have not allowed the disruptions caused by the pandemic to deteriorate it. Of course, there have been occasions when we, too, have faced challenges in maintaining the high level of our security of supply, but open communication with our customers has helped.
Relicomp has had an excellent year in terms of sales, and our customers’ sales are also flourishing. Their forecasts for order volumes predict that Relicomp’s turnover is approaching the €20 million mark. Indeed, this year we will see strong growth compared to last year. Of course, this also means that there will be a need for extra hands at our factory in Kurikka. Our aim is to recruit up to 20 new employees.
This is a very good starting point for the autumn work and the planning for next year. Now we are only waiting to meet with our customers and partners face to face again.