As Finland’s most important sector, the technology industry accounts for half of the country’s exports. Some 30 per cent of Finland’s workforce is employed in the industry, which employs 280,000 people directly and 700,000 indirectly. However, the sector has lost 100,000 jobs in under ten years. In this changing business environment, those who actively seek new business opportunities and prepare for the future will be the ones that flourish.
Last autumn, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and Tampere University of Technology (TUT) took up the challenge and set up SMACC (the Smart Machines and Manufacturing Centre), with its 300 sectoral experts. VTT has a total of 2,600 employees, and TUT has 1,800.
SMACC is accelerating Finnish manufacturing on its journey into the future and providing SMEs, in particular, with rapid solutions on a one-stop principle, diverse and nationally significant scientific expertise, and an extensive domestic and foreign collaboration network.
Robotic arms are used as installation tools in industry.
Fast off the drawing board, on the company’s terms
The threshold for joining the programme has been made as low as possible for companies.
“We are continuously adapting our agile business models to the needs of entrepreneurs and provide rapid assistance to businesses of all sizes. Based on examples, with the help of high-speed pilot projects we are able to spread the enthusiasm and courage needed to engage in innovation,” says Business Development Manager Risto Kuivanen, who is in charge of SMACC issues in VTT.
“We begin with an interactive brainstorming day with the company, during which we chart issues such as development needs, and the company performs a self-assessment and draws up an action plan. The company receives a summary of all this as its first tool,” Kuivanen adds.
Next, the company’s data is compared to that of other companies with similar development areas. A business cluster is then created, with 4–5 companies that are not competing with each other. The companies jointly accelerate and further refine the development issues.
“Around twenty companies are currently involved in the programme and the number is growing every day. These companies are involved in the brainstorming day and directly engaged in the preparation of joint research projects. In addition to SMEs, larger flagship companies are on board,” says Professor Kari T. Koskinen, in charge of SMACC-related issues at TUT.
In particular, the needs of SMEs have been selected as the initial themes: demanding digital manufacturing, digital design and modelling, the new digital service innovations, digital quality control (Industrial Internet), inventory management solutions and additive manufacturing (3D printing).
SMACC serves the the whole of Finland – its operations are anchored in Pirkanmaa Jukka Alasentie, Director, Regional Development of the Council of the Tampere Region states that SMACC will strengthen the rejuvenation and cutting-edge expertise of Pirkanmaa i.e. its manufacturing industry, and bring together the two key actors in the region.
“In addition to research, there is a strong focus on enterprises, particularly SMEs. VTT and Tampere University of Technology are expected to bring new energy to enterprises, which will be used in the leveraging of world-class expertise. 3D investments, which are being promoted in research and creating a bridge to SMEs, are particularly important. We finance change, not individual projects,” says Alasentie.
The centre of expertise is seeking an annual volume of EUR 40 million, with the whole of Finland as its target area. Action is firmly anchored in national and international collaborative networks and focused on the region of Pirkanmaa, where there is a strong manufacturing ecosystem. The City of Tampere and Council of the Tampere Region have been involved from the beginning.
The SMACC workspace is located in the new Campus Arena in Hervanta, Tampere, where VTT and TUT’s joint facilities are used for the presentation of research and as a meeting place for companies.
Ceramic 3D printing for wear-resistant applications.
How to join SMACC?
Development Manager Risto Kuivanen points out that companies involved in cost-effective co-development via SMACC gain a two-year competitive advantage.
“This is an opportunity to get to the top,” emphasises Kuivanen.
Ask for further details and sign up online:
http://smacc.fi/ under Contact Details or firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Topical information is continuously being added to the new SMACC web pages.
VTT, Risto Kuivanen, Business Development Manager.
TUT, Kari T. Koskinen, Professor, Head of Department, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Systems.
Excellence as a bridge between Finnish companies
Within SMACC, VTT and Tampere University of Technology combine excellence in the pursuit of efficiency and results. More cost-effective enterprise, which is closer to the customer, is being created from industrial activities.
This is serving Finnish industry and technology development. The end result must be more than the sum of its parts, that is 1 + 1 must add up to more than 2 in order to provide cost-efficiency, expertise and genuinely fast results for industry.
Sandvik has strong networks with VTT and Tampere University of Technology. SMACC is a good forum in which research institutions and small and large companies come together for faster information exchange. Even small businesses have access to the same resources, enabling a common language between actors, as well as greater agility and mutual benefits. This allows small businesses to achieve the same as big companies, with small firms succeeding in the wake of large ones.
SMACC is directed towards both big companies and SMEs. While large companies can export based on Finland’s technological strengths, SMEs tend to need a large partner to assist with their export efforts. To ensure cost-effectiveness, the focus should be on achieving things and administrative costs must remain low. I feel very positive about SMACC and it is now time to get down to work together.
Research & Technology Manager at Sandvik Mining and Construction Oy.
The Tampere-based Sandvik Mining and Construction offers the world’s widest range of equipment for rock drilling, rock excavation, processing, demolition and bulk-materials handling. The Swedish-owned Sandvik AB Group has operations in 130 countries and employs 49,000 people.
Bring excellence together!
SMACC has volume; 300 researchers have combined their expertise, which is now rapidly available to companies on a one-stop, cost-efficient basis. We have already gained good experience of issues such as rapid assistance by telephone.
VTT and TUT have their own specialisations, which we expect to dovetail within SMACC.
It is little wonder that a centre of expertise would centralise it operations in the Pirkanmaa region, which is a manufacturing hub in Finland. In addition, VTT in particular plays a national role.
SMEs’ expectations are now high. It is a good thing that they have their own special focus area within SMACC. However, large companies are also needed as drivers, since each organisation has its own place within the value chain. It is worth bearing in mind that 70 percent of product costs are generated by parties other than the main contractor; this makes the overall value chain and subcontractors important.
Managing Director, Nomet Oy.
Based in Tampere, Nomet is a component workshop which focuses on demanding machined pieces and sub-assemblies and cooperates with large domestic and international companies in Finland. Nomet aims to grow into a technology partner for major clients over the next few years. The company employs around 48 people, and its turnover is some EUR 8.3 million per year.
Finland’s highest level of research expertise in smart machines and manufacturing
The key objectives of SMACC’s first three years are as follows:
• 20 enterprises will achieve a productivity leap -> 50% growth
• 100 SMEs -> 10% growth
• 300 SMEs involved.
The objective of the productivity leap is an overall productivity improvement of 50 per cent in the target companies.
The company’s operations will be examined from the perspective of its products, production, product development, customer benefit and the functioning of its network. The road to the productivity leap lies through issues such as the identification of factors with an impact on overall productivity, problem areas, concrete proposals for action, and the related cost savings. In addition, suitable means of development and funding are proposed alongside the company’s key employees.