On 1 December 2020, it became two years since Tero Syrjälä was appointed Relicomp’s production manager. Time has simply flown by while Tero has been in charge of the comprehensive management and development of Relicomp’s production and also worked as the company’s occupational safety and health manager.
When Tero took on the job of production manager two years ago, he initially felt a little anxious about what the future has to hold. He had previously been in charge of the welding shop, a large and demanding task in itself, but now the scope of responsibilities grew significantly. Quite soon it became apparent that succeeding in the new task would require comprehensive management ability and knowledge of the needs of different stakeholders and of factory processes and equipment.
“The strength of our work community definitely lies in our culture of cooperation. Nobody needs to work on things alone. We have encouraged our employees to highlight development needs, and we prioritise and monitor the development of new ideas. Relicomp has a low corporate hierarchy, meaning that our work runs smoothly and we develop things in an agile way. We are not afraid to make changes, and we carry out investments every year. When we come across a well-founded and required change, we are ready to invest in the development work. A surprising amount of energy goes into thinking where and when euros and resources should be allocated to achieve the highest possible productivity.”
The different stages of work and production have long been monitored using different indicators. Together with production and the development team, Tero has further detailed these meters in the past two years. The results so far have been promising. The different stages of production can now be monitored closely and developed where needed. Major improvements have been achieved particularly in delivery reliability and efficiency. Our ability to produce good quality has also been systematically developed in recent years under the quality manager. The development measures have increased the flow of production, contributing to the company’s competitiveness.
“My strength is that I am not afraid to take on challenges. What was good enough yesterday may not be sufficient today. To remain competitive, we must dare to question our practices and change them as needed. It is also important to be aware of costs. I understood early on that I must know something about each section of the production process in order to understand the whole. Luckily we have a great bunch of people here with expertise in practically everything, and I have learned to tap into that expertise in my work.”
Last spring was a true learning experience. The COVID-19 epidemic brought many changes to the day-to-day operations at Relicomp as well. The order book fluctuated significantly, and the changed situation called for quick reactions. In addition to production meetings, Tero added meetings with production planning to his daily agenda and also kept close contact with customers.
“The coronavirus had a strong impact on us in the spring, but we were able to pull through with the help of flexible personnel. Accurate predictions from customers helped us anticipate coming situations, and we were able to prioritise our actions efficiently. We were in continuous contact with our customers and examined where they stood. Based on information received from them, we were able to perform proactive measures and make changes to our production well in advance. We were able to take care of our orders as reliably as before. The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that there is strength in cooperation. We are lucky to have effective partnerships with our wonderful customers.”
The management of staff is one of the production manager’s key tasks and a significant part of each working day. Tero explains that leading by example comes naturally to him, and in his work he strives to treat everyone the way he would like to be treated himself. According to Tero, essential things in personnel management include being able to listen, supporting employees in reaching the agreed targets and being present in everyday situations. Job success also requires an assertive approach to work and mutual trust with the employees.
“My supervisor has given me the freedom to lead as I see fit, while always supporting me in my work. I want to offer the same support to my team.”
Employee well-being and satisfaction are important values at Relicomp, and effort is made to uphold them. Every other week, Tero holds a meeting with the union representative and occupational safety and health representative in order to maintain mutual and constant communication. Possible problems are addressed with sufficient seriousness and issues are solved as early as possible.
Tero is happy at his job. The opportunity to further develop processes with others at Relicomp keeps the work interesting. At times, the work can feel hectic and offer difficulties, but problems have been solved by pulling together. For Tero, the best thing about Relicomp is the wonderful staff, top customers and modern equipment that together allow the company to succeed. Although the production manager bears a great responsibility, skilled colleagues and hobbies help maintain the balance.
“Things that I struggled with two years ago no longer feel challenging at all. I have learned so much during this time. There is nothing we cannot manage here, as long as I am able to leave work behind every now and then to go fishing or hunting,” Tero summarises.