A change of pace accelerated by digitalisation. That is exactly what Mecmetal Oy, a manufacturer of production lines and equipment for the concrete industry, achieved in one year. Now the company’s new generation of products is ready for the international markets. Smart, automated and environmentally friendly.

Hurry up and let’s get on with it. That is what Jani Toropainen, Ari Hiltunen and Miika Lauronen decided a year ago. In March 2020, the three men acquired Mecmetal Oy. The company’s customers consist of companies in the concrete sector in Finland and abroad.

Machines made by Mecmetal are used to produce concrete blocks, insulation blocks, paving stones, elements for air conditioning ducts and chimneys for the construction industry – and much else if necessary. The manufacturing technique is suitable for various products that, in their size and shape, fit the dimensions of the concrete product machine. Everything from recycled materials to traditional concrete mixes can be used as material.

One third of the Joensuu-based company’s customers consisted of international companies even before the acquisition.

– Domestic customers are extremely important to us. In the global market, we will continue to see a strong opportunity for growth, says Ari Hiltunen, CEO of Mecmetal.
One of the shareholders, Jani Toropainen, previously worked in Mecmetal as an assembler and machine specialist. He became familiar with customers and their needs both in Finland and abroad from the grassroots level to the management team. In the reorganised Mecmetal, Toropainen works as a development manager and is responsible for projects and development. One of the three men, Miika Lauronen, works as the company’s production manager.

A pioneer

From the beginning of its history, Mecmetal has positioned itself as a pioneer in its field as a technology supplier. When competitors built concrete machines that used tonnes of hydraulic oil, Mecmetal went in another direction. Veikko Kukkonen, Jouko Lauronen and Reijo Lauronen, the original founders of the company, introduced a concrete product machine that operated electromechanically.

The founders were real visionaries, albeit at that time there was little talk of environmental friendliness. Now environmental issues and energy efficiency are at the heart of investment decisions. The world’s only concrete product machine based on electromechanical activity was – and still is – a major innovation.

– The use of an electrical motor leads to better accuracy, the energy savings result in lower production costs, and the tiny amount of oil required in the gearbox makes the process environmentally friendly, Hiltunen and Toropainen summarise.

– This is how the idea for further development came about: why couldn’t we do the same with servomotors, the Development Manager says, and refers to the energy supply solution for the new concrete product machine.

Customer-orientation

The intelligent digital entity has been made easy and secure for the customer to use.

– Our product development is driven by the customers’ needs. The market requires cost-effectiveness, quality and smooth aftersales services. Solutions must be increasingly automated and digitalised throughout the entire life cycle of the product.

Mecmetal has developed a digital control system for its new range of concrete product machines. It includes comprehensive remote management, more accurate diagnostics and reporting, and anticipation of maintenance and repairs. In the future, the company will harness machine vision for quality control.

– While previously you could trace a manufacturing batch, individual end products are now traceable. Detailed monitoring obligations are imposed on the concrete block manufacturer: quality, strength, external dimensions before and after the final product has dried, Ari Hiltunen describes.

In the best company

In Mecmetal, development has been carried out passionately: the digital leap has been a huge one, cross-cutting all activities from design to manufacturing, and from marketing and sales to lifecycle services. These activities have been founded on the company’s own expertise and experience in the international sector. Business Joensuu has been an important partner throughout the development.

– Accurate and up-to-date information, and proven solutions. That is what we wanted to gain from Business Joensuu as a partner, and that is precisely what we gained. We did not want to do this on our own, to ponder about the development measures by ourselves. It was smarter to go and ask questions, and to look for sparring. We have made this journey together, Toropainen explains.

So far, Mecmetal has gained experience and learned from Business Joensuu’s GoGlobal internationalisation programme and the Digi.Grow service, to mention just a couple of examples. The cooperation continues: next, the growth company will need expert help in recruitment.

– Dialogue with Business Joensuu experts is straightforward. In practice, we have received help and sparring in all kinds of matters, no matter who we have contacted. It has been the best kind of networking for us.

As a result of a tip given by Business Joensuu, Mecmetal also sought cooperation with Process Genius and others. Process Genius modelled a digital twin for Mecmetal’s next-generation concrete product machine. It has already enabled Mecmetal to illustrate the smart manufacturing of concrete products to its customers. This has been valuable in a situation where the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the opportunities for personal selling and visits to trade fairs.

– Our message has already been heard and our agile operating model has been noticed in the world. We have received new tools for marketing and sales. In this regard, the Business Joensuu Digi.Grow service has been absolutely central, Development Manager Toropainen says.

 

“Now environmental issues and energy efficiency are at the heart of investment decisions”

Mecmetal Oy

  • Established in 1996
  • Forerunner in electromechanical concrete product machines
  • Design and manufacturing in Finland
  • Production lines supplied around the world
  • The smart new generation Evolution 20 product machine on the market in 2021
  • Read more about Mecmetal’s new innovation

Digi.Grow digital coaching

A practical coaching programme for micro-enterprises and SMEs interested in introducing digital tools and improving the efficiency of their operations.

  • Analysing the company’s possibilities for using digital tools
  • Learning about digital marketing tools in practical workshops
  • Expert’s services available throughout the coaching process
  • Read more here
  • Our coaching partners include the European Union, the European Social Fund ESF and the ELY Centre for North Karelia

Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä Ässä Oy
Images: Jarno Artika