HögforsGST's new factory enables double capacity - future need for new employees
Construction work on HögforsGST's new factory has been completed on schedule and the new factory is now fully operational. The new factory, which has been built on HögforsGST's site in Leppävirta, Finland, will bring about 3,000 square meters of additional space and additional capacity to meet the growing demand.
Read the previous article on the factory project, published in early 2020.
Tero Tikanmäki, Production and Procurement Director responsible for the factory project, says that the construction contract and commissioning were both completed on schedule. The operations in leased premises were transferred to the new production facilities as planned at the end of March.
- The lease expired at the end of March. The move went on schedule and production was allowed to start in the new premises partly already during the moving process. At the beginning of April, in week 14, the production of Unis substations and Mix products began, and in week 17 it was time to start part production in the new facility. Unis and Mix production moved to the new factory from the leased premises, while part production from the other factory located on the same property. At the moment, the new factory has been in full swing for several weeks, Tikanmäki says.
- I want to give special thanks to the main contractor and Jukka Huttunen, who were essential in order to get the job done on schedule.
More space - more opportunities for growth
According to Tikanmäki, added space is the number one advantage of the new factory. With the additional space, production will be more efficient and production capacity will have the opportunity to grow in the future.
- There used to be extremely little space. Now we have better opportunities to increase production and increase capacity
When asked about future prospects, Tikanmäki's answer is clear.
- This factory was not built in vain. At the moment, production is being slowly increased according to demand, but in the future we will have the opportunity to even double the production within these modern facilities. With the increase in production, more employees will certainly be needed, Tikanmäki estimates.
The new production facility has been well received by employees.
- Space and brightness have been the biggest positive things. However, the new factory is a bit noisier than the old one, so we’re still making some improvements on the acoustics.
COVID-19 affecting the production’s daily routines
The state of emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic overshadows the commissioning of the new plant, but production has nevertheless been able to continue production quite normally given the circumstances.
- It has not been easy, Tikanmäki sighs.
- We have paid special attention to hygiene and other precautions, which has clearly worked, as sick leave days have been significantly reduced. Ensuring the health of our employees and the continuity of production are important to us in this situation.
According to Tikanmäki, the situation has caused disturbances in the availability of many components.
- Our buyers work hard to ensure the availability of components. We have reacted to the situation, for example, by increasing the amounts purchased as well as stocking up our inventories and replacing some components, Tikanmäki lists.
Finland's most energy efficient plant?
A special feature of HögforsGST's new plant is its unique heating and cooling system. According to HögforsGST's Managing Director Antti Hartman, we may be even talking about Finland's most energy-efficient factory.
- The hybrid heating system at our new factory utilizes geothermal heat and waste heat recovery in energy production. At the same time, we get our wildest ideas put to the test at once. In this case, the shoemaker's children don’t go barefoot, but have the nicest of shoes, Hartman states.
All jokes aside, not only does the plant offer an opportunity to expand existing production, but there are now even better circumstances for the development of future technologies. Hartman believes that a massive factory investment of more than five million euros was worth making now.
- The energy sector is currently undergoing a drastic change. Alternatives to coal and fossil fuels in general need to be found within the next decade. The technologies we have developed, such as our heat recovery and hybrid heating systems, are already meeting that demand, but new ideas are needed all the time.
- There is a huge amount of work being done in product development, which has also paid off. We are currently applying for patent protection for several new, fourth generation district heating (4GDH) innovations. What better place to manufacture the best heating systems in the world than our new Leppävirta plant, Hartman says.