The events of the spring and the second wave of the coronavirus have made many companies postpone their investment plans. The delivery chains of the manufacturing industry are cautious, and some of the foreign orders have been frozen due to various restrictions, regulations and a lack of resources.
Relicomp Oy, a company from Kurikka, Finland, that focuses on the sheet metal industry continues to make investments at the same fast pace as in the previous years. Last year, the company purchased the largest deep drawing press in Finland. This year, it invests in Prima Power’s new Combi Genius combination machine that strengthens the company’s quality level in particular and improves the uniform quality of the end products.
Combi Genius strengthens the quality level and improves well-being at work
The new Combi Genius combination machine with a 4 kW fibre resonator is at the height of its technology on a global scale. The machine replaces two of Relicomp’s older machines, because it combines the benefits of a laser with those of a punching cell as well as the precision of servo technology and savings in the operating and life cycle costs of the machine. The number of robot stations has been doubled, and the intelligent ram shortens tool change time and increases the number of tools in the turret. The highest laser power possible brings more cutting speed. The tool turret was reviewed by several machine operators, who gave their opinions on how it could be used to the best advantage. Based on the discussion, the turret on the punching side was built so that it could hold as many tools as possible and the set up time would be as short as possible.
Even though the machine cuts up to the thickness of 8 mm, it is used specifically for thinner sheets, mainly 0.5–3 mm thick. The flying optics lasers that are already in use are used for thicker sheets. The new combination machine can finish thinner parts faster, which brings the capacity of all machines up to a good level. There is already plenty of work in line for the new machine. Thanks to the LSR robot, the tools in the turret and the short set up time, the utilisation rate of the machine has been maximised and it can be run unattended throughout the night, if need be.
The new technology also brings health benefits to the personnel. The machine is much quieter than its predecessor, and the loading and unloading robots improve the ergonomics of the machine operators considerably. The new machine is fast, easy to use and increases the comfort of use of the operator, which in turn improves well-being at work.
“When the hall used to be filled with noise from machines, it’s now full of the sound of the workers’ radios. This is a significant improvement. The workers were also included in the design of this new machine, which means that its accessories have been selected with the needs of production in mind,” says Marko Jyllilä, Managing Director of Relicomp.
Companies are now interested in environmentally friendly equipment and bringing production back to Finland
Even though the demand stalled in the spring, the situation has started to brighten up. Companies are now trying to find solutions to bring at least a part of the production back to Finland. In fact, the demand is expected to increase rapidly once the situation stabilises and the global connections open up.
“We have invested at least a million in new equipment and solutions annually, and we intend to maintain a bold investment policy in the future, too. When you compare our investments in machines and equipment to those of our other competitors, we are making a lot of investments in view of our size. Every investment goes towards better quality and even more versatile service,” Marko Jyllilä, Managing Director of Relicomp, describes the company’s investment policy.
According to Jyllilä, now is a good time to invest so that the equipment will be in perfect order when the situation brightens up and they will be able to meet the needs of their customers. New customers have already sent queries. Prima Power’s Domestic Sales Director Mikko Fiskaali agrees:
“The price of a person-year is high in all of the western industrial countries, and Finland is one of them. New technological solutions combined with a high level of automation improve the companies’ competitiveness, which means that they can also be credible competitors in sheet metal subcontracting on the international level. These kinds of investments improve the companies’ efficiency and quality level, and they can respond to even larger and more complex orders than before.”
Solutions that benefit both the company and the environment have been at centre stage in Prima Power’s equipment development for years. This means that investing in new equipment also means investing in the environment, which in turn helps companies to find funding for their purchases more easily. Servo-operated machines, like Relicomp’s new combination machine, are now replacing the old hydraulic equipment quickly on the market.
“The new machines are extremely fast and easy to use, but they are also quieter, which improves the customer experience for the machine operators,” Fiskaali describes the differences between the old and the new machines.
The importance of local cooperation is highlighted on the international market
Finland constitutes approximately 5% of Prima Power’s global machine tool market. Most of the Finnish customers operate in Uusimaa and the Turku region. In fact, it is rare to find a customer in the same region. The roots of this cooperation, however, reach all the way into the 1990s.
“Prima Power has been cooperating with Relicomp for a long time. We were familiar with Relicomp’s needs, so it was great to be able to offer them a solution that they eventually decided to invest in. At the same time, we also made an agreement on consulting in sheet metal production with the aim of analysing and developing potential development targets in production. This is done to support Relicomp’s comprehensive service offering and strong competitiveness, and Prima Power has expertise for issues such as factory logistics and loading the production in the right way. We believe that we can improve competitiveness through cooperation,” Jyllilä and Fiskaali state.
In fact, a local partner in cooperation is an important resource in machine purchases, which is highlighted especially in the commissioning and maintenance of new equipment.
“The biggest benefits are the existing expertise, the training of personnel and a maintenance service in Finnish that can be reached easily. We have received help with problems quickly, and the training has been thorough. This means that there are as few interruptions in production as possible,” Jyllilä says and continues:
“We buy everything we can from the domestic market. Especially now that the global situation is what it is, it is important to invest in Finland. Operating in our own language is a significant benefit in situations in which personnel is being trained, a machine needs maintenance or we need information quickly. When service and maintenance are available in Finnish, it also considerably lowers the employees’ threshold to contact maintenance independently. The utilisation rate of the machines remains high, and their repayment period is as short as possible.”
In the photo: Relicomp’s Managing Director Marko Jyllilä, Prima Power’s Domestic Sales Director Mikko Fiskaali as well as Relicomp’s Production Manager Tero Syrjälä after the investment decision.