Fortaco focuses on early involvement

Time to market is increasingly important and therefore it is vital to shorten the R&D phase and ensure the best possible cost structure during the process. Fortaco invests in product development and early involvement securing a cost-efficient and high-quality value chain for the customer.

“We support our customers throughout the whole journey – from the early phases to product launch and production,” says Janne Hihnala, Business Site Director in Fortaco’s Kalajoki unit.

Fortaco focuses on solutions and processes that ensure cost efficiency and high quality for the customer by providing, for example, the product design, welding, surface finishing, machining, sourcing and installation.

Fortaco started investing in product development together with customers several years ago.
“We are not just the supplier, but also the developer. This is how we are reshaping the way things are produced. We need to understand clearly what the customer wants. Having this understanding is the best approach to this business,” says Mihály Manasses, Business Site Director in Fortaco’s Jászberény unit.
For example, together with one of its customers Fortaco has formed a development group that constantly evaluates how to improve product quality.

“This is very important to us, especially with a valued long-term customer,” Mihály says. “Investing in product development with the customer does not instantly bring more money, but in most cases it brings continuity. We have received a lot of feedback from our customer that they are very content with our investment in development.”

Broad spectrum of expertise

Fortaco’s customers get solutions, service and products from Fortaco’s different business sites in Europe. Fortaco has a number of business sites in Europe representing distinct areas of expertise that vary from high quality product development to serial manufacturing.

“In Jászberény, Hungary and Narva, Estonia, for example, Fortaco is specialised in welding of high strength steels, while in Janów and Wrocław, Poland, Fortaco’s specialty is high- and mid-volume production of various welded structures. In Kalajoki, Finland, we have bigger and heavier products and projects related to power and nuclear applications,” explains Janne.

“The customer does not need to find out where in Europe to get a single product or service – we will find out what is the cheapest product chain. For the customer, there is only one Fortaco, even though we have operations in many countries in Europe,” says Janne.

“Our way of working always reflects our values; respect, simplicity and speed,” Mihály says. “For example in welding, which is my area of expertise, we possess deep knowledge about welding of normal and special steel and are well equipped to process heavy components and special technology like bending, rolling, machining and high quality surface treatment. We are unique in the business.”

When it comes to Mihály’s all-time favourite project, the answer is easy: “To build one customer-driven Fortaco!”

Fortaco manufactures electric buses with zero local emissions

Through its solid expertise in manufacturing and assembly as well as its broad network of subcontractors, Fortaco is transforming transport technology. Their partner is Linkker, a Finnish company which develops, sells and markets innovative city transportation.

“Production of electric buses developed by Linkker is an opportunity for us to be part of bringing pioneering technology into manufacturing,” says Jussi Malmi, Senior Vice President at Fortaco.
“We have long experience in bringing products into manufacturing, i.e. new product implementation. Our role is to take the Linkker plans into production and suggest improvements which bring increased efficiency or quality into the manufacturing process,” explains Petri Ängeslevä, Senior Project Manager and responsible for the manufacturing of electric buses at the Sastamala business site.

Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) has bought 12 buses from Linkker and Fortaco is responsible for the manufacturing and assembly. The first buses will be delivered at the beginning of 2016. Fortaco has started recruitment for its Sastamala business site and production should begin in autumn.

“Currently we are recruiting and planning the production set up, production phases, instructions and training and are also bringing all data into our systems and developing documentation,” says Petri Ängeslevä.

Quality on top

The process includes different areas of engineering, such as welding, gluing and the assembly processes. Thus the broad spectrum of expertise at Fortaco comes into use. The manufacturing and assembly includes everything from ensuring the availability of the required components on time, to taking care of the chassis, axles, surface plates, interior, paint and finish. One electric bus includes thousands of components, and purchasing knowledge is vital. Fortaco has its own Europe-wide purchase organisation and an extensive and skilled network of subcontractors, securing both timely deliveries as well as quality of components and competitive costs. As several of the same components are used in buses as in, for example, cabins assembled by Fortaco, there are synergies and high purchase volumes provide for cost efficiency.

Petri Ängeslevä stresses that the importance of quality can never be underestimated when it comes to vehicles designed to carry large groups: “We put great efforts on quality and have a good track record on this side. Managing the purchase chain is essential, you need a broad network and you need to know your suppliers’ performance regarding quality and ability to deliver on time,” Petri Ängeslevä emphasises.
Fortaco has solid experience in a range of machinery and vehicle manufacturing. Since the 1950s, machinery and vehicles for mining, construction, environment and military purposes have been manufactured in Sastamala.

“Our product life management system is at the top level and is well adapted to this project, securing documentation management when changes occur in the process during the product lifecycle,” says Petri Ängeslevä.

Building partnerships

“This project is very much about cooperation and partnering for development. On our side, we provide knowledge and competence in manufacturing and assembly and the network of a fairly large player. Also, the Sastamala business unit facilities are well adjusted for bus manufacturing. Together with Linkker we are working hard to make this a competitive product that succeeds on the market,” says Jussi Malmi.

Linkker is a Finnish company established in 2013 to commercialise the eBus project and has more than ten years of R&D background at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The market for electric buses is expected to develop rapidly and Linkker is currently marketing its solution internationally. Fortaco can grow its annual production capacity to 200 buses in Sastamala, and if the market demands, production can be even higher. Fortaco can also manufacture vehicles in two other assembly sites, Kurikka in Finland and Holíč in Slovakia.

“We are building the solution of the future as regards the environment, the economy and the city transport experience. We have strong confidence in the market potential of electric buses and believe that this is just the beginning,” says Kimmo Erkkilä, Managing Director of Linkker.