Increasing number of customers want ready-to-install components
Sparks are flying as the tube laser pierces the raw tube element with small holes. Robot operator Aleksi Tenhonen has programmed the tube laser with the tasks specified in the blueprints and now stands watching it spit out the finished product to await packaging. The machine takes twenty to thirty seconds to machine one tube. The entire batch is ready in a few minutes. Then the machine is reprogrammed. One order can contain up to two hundred different parts.
A growing number of wholesalers want to offer their customers more processed components and an increasing number of end users have noticed that any perforations, grinding and cutting to length that they require can be performed at the same plant where the tube itself is manufactured. More often these days customers want something other than the basic unprocessed six-metre-long tube. That’s when they come here: a few kilometres from Stalatube’s main plant where a unit was established in 2011 that focuses onvalue added services.
“The tube laser will machine tubes of any shape and can do almost anything with them. At least for now nothing has come up that we haven’t been able to carry out,” says Production Engineer Markku Lindstam. “For example, we manufactured a lot of tubes for a Norwegian offshore oil rig, each of which had to be pierced with 2,000 holes. The machine will complete an order like that in less than an hour.”
The staff at Stalatube’s plant are not aware of the end user of the freshly produced tubes, but they know that in addition to offshore oil rigs, the plant makes support structures for balconies, bus parts and waste receptacles. At its best, the tube laser turns out ready-to-install components. The second extreme is orders in which the only information provided is the wholesaler who placed the order and the blueprints they have sent.
“Often the blueprints are so good that it doesn’t matter. Sometimes, however, there are situations where the blueprints are unclear or they can’t be carried out as such. In cases like that it would help to know who the end user is. We could set up a consulting chain and use our own creativity,” Lindstam says.
In addition to the plant, the open flow of information would also benefit the supplier and the end user.
“If they knew what we can do, wholesalers would be able to serve their customers better and end users would be able to demand more refined components. All three of us together could achieve a much more cost-effective production chain,” Lindstam concludes.