In a short time, Mychrome has transformed from a traditional subcontractor into a machine and equipment supplier with an extensive portfolio of their own products.
The company manufacturing pallet nailing machines and production lines comprising these machines, Mychrome Oy Ab, faces a positive problem. The demand for the equipment they supply exceeds the company’s production volume capacities.
Each year, seven billion pallets are manufactured globally. One pallet machine line, even when fully automated, can produce less than one per mil out of this number. At the same time, pallet demand is growing at 10 percent every year.
With the current production facilities, Mychrome can deliver four large-scale and several smaller-scale projects per year.
– The fact of the matter is that the machinery we produce cannot even cover the current growth of the pallet market, calculates Mychrome CEO Peter Piispanen.
It’s been four years since the company was previously extended, and now the desk of Mr Piispanen is again full of steel structure blueprints for a new assembly hall.
It doesn’t look like the market situation will be changing in the near future as no-one is developing alternative, competing products for wooden pallets. This is a product that is easy to repair and recycle, so its ecological qualities are hard to beat.
Mychrome mainly supplies pallet machines to the European area, but the first-ever production line heading for the United States is undergoing production at the shop. The longest-ever delivery route a Finnish pallet machine took was all the way to Taiwan.
In practice, the pallet machine lines consist of nailing machines that carry out the various stages of the manufacturing process. The product line variations that consist of the machines are many.
– The starting point is that the production process for a pallet requires three different machines: one nails the base pieces, the second the top parts, and the third machine joins the top and base together to form a complete pallet. As to the degree of automation for the line, explains Piispanen, we can increase it by using various auxiliary equipment such as a board feeding device, a branding iron device, and handling robots.
At its most simple configuration, however, a pallet machine consists only of nailing units installed to different sides of the machine; with workers handling the various pallet components during the manufacturing process.
The more highly automated versions have robots stacking the ready pallets and people only need to ensure that the feeding end doesn’t run out of materials.
“Escarmat has proven to be a fully flexible partner and we’ve been extremely happy with the cooperation.”Peter Piispanen
Another admirable aspect of the Mychrome operational model is that the company manufactures their automated pallet production lines mostly on their own – all the way down to the nailing machines. The manufacture of control cabinets, however, Mychrome has entrusted to Escarmat, and this is a decision they haven’t regretted at all.
– I remember well the first time I contacted Escarmat to discuss making cabinets. I placed a call to Björn Norrgård – who’s no longer with us – and we started figuring out issues related to cabinet manufacture. It didn’t take long for us to have our first meeting after that phone call, reminisces Piispanen.
As stated above, a pallet production line can include several pieces of machinery, robots, and other auxiliary equipment. Controlling all this requires a significant amount of automation and logic. In addition, numerous sensors and detectors monitor the machines’ safety zones.
Thus in practice, the control cabinets used in Mychrome systems are servo and variable-frequency drives and logic cabinets.
– When we started our cooperation, the cabinets from our previous supplier served as the base. We’ve developed them a lot further and Escarmat has provided valuable design help. We have also benefitted from Escarmat’s expertise in the design of machine safety zones.
In practice, 90 percent of Mychrome deliveries are fully tailored to match specific customer premises and the kinds of pallets they plan to make. This is why the control cabinets also undergo many alterations.
– We were looking for a local cabinet manufacturer who takes a flexible approach to their customers. Both our premises are at a stone’s throw from one another. Additionally, Escarmat has proven to be a fully flexible partner and we’ve been extremely happy with the cooperation.
“What we do is that much more interesting as we now get to manufacture the product from start to finish and the whole world serves as our market.”Peter Piispanen
One might be surprised to learn that the humble origins of the today’s system supplier with a four-million turnover lie in the shop of a single metal worker become entrepreneur. The business was indeed founded by Peter’s father Mikael Piispanen, who started his operations exactly 40 years ago under the name of Piispasen Sorvaus ja Hitsaus (Piispanen Turning and Welding).
– For the first 20 years, my dad did subcontracting work mostly on his own to Ostrobothnian companies, Piispanen tells of the early years.
At the turn of the millennium, they started expanding operations with the younger generation and now all four sons of Mikael work at Mychrome.
The company did nothing but subcontracting work all the way until 2015, when their business suddenly took a very different turn. That was when one of their Swedish customers inquired if the Piispanen-led company would like to start manufacturing their pallet machines and related production lines.
– This customer had had the opportunity to make pallets for a major Swedish enterprise, and they soon found this a much more interesting endeavour than just putting together the required machinery. Luck played a small part here too.
Mychrome still handles subcontracting work such as laser cutting, turning, and milling, but these comprise a mere fifth of their current turnover.
Last year, Mychrome Oy Ab formalised their new business name and acquired all the product rights to their machinery.
Piispanen sees many positive aspects of the new direction the company has taken.
– As far as orders go, the outlook is more far-reaching than it was with mere subcontracting work. Also, what we do is that much more interesting as we now get to manufacture the product from start to finish and the whole world serves as our market.
Escarmat is a full-service automation supplier offering flexible subcontracting and project manufacturing of switchboards, automation cabinets and control cabinets to various industries. We also offer tailor-made, comprehensive turnkey solutions.