Pesmel: An industrial company that understood the customer and digitalisation

Many companies could learn from the practices of Pesmel – understanding the client supports digitalisation and vice versa. Team Finland has supported the company's internationalisation in a number of ways.

Founded in Kauhajoki In 1978, the family-owned company Pesmel manufactures highly automated logistics, packaging and storage systems. Its customers are mainly from the metal and paper industry, as well as the general cargo industry in Finland. The company's machines move, pack and store goods ranging from aluminium and copper to pulp – and everything in between. Finnish customers include Outokumpu, SSAB, Metsä Group, UPM and Stora Enso. Customers from Asia and the United States include some of the world's largest industrial companies – APRIL, SCA, Oji Paper, ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel, China Aluminium, Baosteel and China Steel.

"We listen to and spar with our customers. They tell us what they need and we propose a solution – then gradually move closer to the actual heart of the problem. For most clients, four out of every five issues are in order. But it's the fifth – which the customer may not even have considered – that can be decisive to competitiveness. In the design phase, we bring along a 3D model of production rather than a pile of paper. Using the right production data, the customer can simulate how increasing the number of machines will affect production, can run fault simulations and can experiment freely on how to impact on these issues. After this, we look at the references and the customer's own investment plans and negotiate the price. Only then can we make a deal. This means that cycles are long," says CEO Tony Leikas.

The company is currently on a growth track. Its net sales were EUR 28 million in 2014 and look set to reach EUR 33–34 million for 2015. Their goal for 2016 is net sales of between EUR 35 and 40 million. Exports account for well over 90 per cent of sales. The Group has 172 employees, 103 of whom are located in Finland.

This is digitalisation in practice

"We are in the business of automation and machine integration. Our management software collects data from large machines 50 times per second, generating an incredible amount of information. This data can be used directly by businesses. Our task is to open a channel of communication between people and machines. A certain Swedish automotive subcontractor had a fully automated production line. They needed to increase production, but had no idea how. A visual inspection suggested that the machines were running flawlessy, at full speed. We began to collect data, analysed it and then identified the bottlenecks. Unlike before, at individual sensor cycle level they can now view each machine's performance in real-time and make expansion and other production-related decisions on the basis of factual knowledge. This is about big money – each and every improvement is valuable."

Team Finland supports growth in the international market

With Tekes' funding Pesmel has developed proprietary software for both production management and remote monitoring. Outokumpu's steel plant in Tornio, Finland, also participated in the related development work. The software enables production machinery to 'learn about itself' with a view to future development. Using the software, operators can see when each part will reach the upper limits of its lifecycle and its use life can be lengthened through separate adjustments. Suitable spare parts can be ordered directly online.

"We have received feedback on how to develop our software directly from employees in the field. Listen, spar and get to know the customer," says Leikas.

Tekes also funded market research by Pesmel in India and China. The company surveyed 44 large local steel mills in India.

"They all lacked detailed data collection and feedback on machine performance and bottlenecks. A need was clearly identified and we got our message across, but this is still a new and strange issue to people over there. We have an opportunity to make new deals here, based on intensive marketing."

Industry investment has invested in Pesmel, Finnvera's financing has supported exports and Finpro has helped with trade fair participation and the establishment of overseas outlets.

Further information

Photo: Pesmel

Kaj Nordgren