Two years ago most of the transmission plant was modernised to prepare for production of the new Direct and Versu transmissions. Last summer the final assembly area was rebuilt, covering an area of about one hectare. Alongside the construction work, development projects have been implemented, including the APS (AGCO Production Systems) project and Globe Core, a massive project to update the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system within AGCO – beginning with the Suolahti factory. Further investments are being planned and in the pipeline.
Several new automated machining centres, machining cells and test rooms have been introduced at the transmission plant, and new assembly areas have been built. The production of the five-step Versu and stepless Direct transmissions that were designed at Suolahti is based partially on the machinery and assembly procedures used for HiTech transmissions. The new transmissions have been in production for almost two years, and the new systems have now been fully implemented. Current investments at the transmission plant involve replacing older machining centres.
The final assembly area at the assembly plant was fully renovated last summer. The new assembly process is based on subassemblies and the automation of material flows along the main assembly line. Whereas parts and components previously had to be fetched from their storage areas, automated guided vehicles and automated trolleys now transport the exact parts and components required for each individual tractor directly to the assembler. The high shelving systems were removed from beside the assembly line, and parts were moved to a “supermarket” warehouse. This allows the assemblers along the line to focus fully on assembling tractors. Specialised collectors in turn can focus on collecting the parts needed by the assembly team. Their job is made easier by a computer that displays the exact parts needed on a small screen on each parts box. The collected parts are then transported to the assembly line by automated guided vehicles. The computer assisted collection and automated transportation enhance work efficiency and reduce the risk of human error. The new manufacturing process also allows the volume of key product series to be increased.
Work processes have also been revolutionised at Suolahti. Most of the factory is now organised according to teams. Each team is responsible for a specific task, whereas before tasks were assigned on an individual basis. Teamwork improves motivation and flexibility and has been introduced as part of the APS project, which also encompasses quality and employee initiatives. Valtra has been awarded for the three years in a row in Finland as the company with the most employee initiatives, averaging one per employee per month.
The Globe Core project in turn is revolutionising Valtra’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from sales to production. The project is being implemented throughout AGCO but first of all at the Suolahti factory. The new system is being developed by a team of 70 people from Valtra, AGCO and partner companies. A new IT system will be introduced after the summer holidays in 2011 and is expected to significantly improve efficiency and the flow of information not only within Valtra but throughout AGCO.
The investments and improvements at the Suolahti factory do not end here, as further investments are being planned all the time. For example, the experiences in collecting and teamwork gained in final assembly will be fully utilised to modernise the start of the assembly line. AGCO believes that the Suolahti factory is the perfect location for introducing many new operating procedures. The Suolahti factory has also provided other AGCO factories with many innovations related to individual tractor production, for example.
FACTS ABOUT THE SUOLAHTI FACTORY:
- Production: 42 tractors a day
- Employees: 800
- Total production in 2010: 7277 tractors, slightly more than in the previous year
- Factory founded in Jyväskylä in 1926, tractor production began in 1951, moved to Suolahti in 1969.
- Valtra tractors are tailor made on the basis of individual customer orders