Mon June 17 10:00 am 2019 in category Product news

The biggest investment in the history of Nokian Heavy Tyres is taking shape on time: the 3,500-square-meter R&D Center will be ready in 2019 and the factory will reach full capacity in 2021

Nokian Heavy Tyres, Nokia, Finland, 17 June 2019 – In 2018, Nokian Heavy Tyres announced a massive undertaking: to increase the production of commercial tires up to 50 percent and more than double the number of new products by investing heavily on production and product development. The total investment will be approximately EUR 70 million. Now, what started as a vision is quickly becoming a concrete reality.

Matti Kaunisto, Development Manager at Nokian Tyres, is satisfied. After months of planning all the details and getting intimate with the Building Information Model on his computer, he can actually see the vast new 3,500-square-meter R&D building taking shape. “Seeing it on a screen is one thing”, Kaunisto says, “but being able to walk there is another. The size gets lost in the computer screen, but once you stand there you really sense the space.”

At the moment, the site is busy with installing hollow-core slabs, but plans for the installation of machinery are already well underway. “The construction schedule was ambitious, but we have kept it well”, says Kaunisto. “Once the building is finished, it will boost our innovation work and speed up the time-to-market.”

The factory extension

Another construction project involves expanding the production facilities – and as far as the construction work goes, it’s already finished. “The building is erected, and the installing the machinery is in full flight”, says Plant Director Pasi Antinmaa. “It’s great to move onwards from here.”

At first, the implementation was lagging behind what was planned, but the construction caught up with the schedule. “We will reach the full capacity in 2021 as stated”, Antinmaa says confidently. “The next milestone will be the highly automated visual inspection and tire buffer storage in August, taking advantage of the scheduled annual maintenance break.”

Agile construction

Expanding a working factory can be a bit like fixing a bicycle while riding it. At Nokian Tyres, careful planning with agile change management has proven to be a winning combination. “By implementing the Lean model, we have been able to increase our delivery ability by 15% already this year – in the middle of the ongoing renovations”, Pasi Antinmaa says proudly. “Good planning, anticipation and collaboration have made it possible.”

But thinking ahead does not mean rigidly sticking to the plan. “Originally, the construction of a new tire curing line was planned to start from one end of the factory”, Antinmaa gives an example. “But by starting the construction from another end, we were able to minimize disturbance to production. So the quick change of plans paid off.”

Safety first

Besides enabling more capacity and future growth, the new facilities serve an important role by supporting smoother flow and safer work. “The old facilities were hopelessly too small”, R & D Director Kalle Kaivonen admits. “Now, the tire testing and production planning are better integrated.”

The team behind the innovation

The planning, construction and setup are important steps, but the real innovation lies within the people involved in the process. “The goal for the investment is to produce 50% more and more than to double the number of new products”, Kalle Kaivonen says. “We have done a lot of recruiting to build a team that’s able to make it happen – and it’s been successful.”

Constant learning, collaboration over team boundaries and exceeding expectations is deeply embedded in the Nokian Tyres culture. Kaivonen is happy to point out that the new personnel has learned the ropes quickly. “In such a complex process, there is a lot going on and challenges are inevitable”, he says. “Pulling it off so well, with the old and new employees complementing each other, gives credit to the whole organization.”

Mission: feed the world

Making the growth story happen is not just about adding more resources, it’s also about making the most out of the existing ones. This calls for flexibility, efficiency and new ways to innovate. “In the big picture, our products help utilize planetary resources better”, Kaivonen says. “Our biggest R&D stakes are in the agricultural segment, where it’s all about making the most out of existing farmland in a sustainable way.”

Better tires indeed have a role in feeding the world. “Highway transports, carbon footprint, fuel consumption, friendliness to the soil – new tire technologies are very much linked to global food production”, Kaivonen sums it up.

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Toni Silfverberg, Head of Sales & Marketing, Nokian Heavy Tyres Ltd, [email protected], tel. +358 10 401 7854

Pasi Antinmaa, Plant Director, Nokian Heavy Tyres Ltd, [email protected], tel. +358 10 401 7398

Kalle Kaivonen, R & D Director, Nokian Heavy Tyres Ltd, [email protected], tel. +358 10 401 7357

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