Ten years ago, a couple of ingenious engineers and technicians at the Suolahti tractor factory wanted to see if they could equip tractors with even more options and accessories. The Unlimited Studio started as a cautious experiment, but its popularity surprised even its creators. These days, a third of the tractors manufactured at the Suolahti factory are equipped with Unlimited options.
The Unlimited Studio has equipped thousands of completely unique tractors according to individual customer preferences and for specific tasks, such as road maintenance, forest contracting, airports and the defence forces.
Petri Loukiala, Manager of Unlimited Operations, grew up on a farm and originally joined Valtra as part of the product development team in the engine division. He was fascinated by Valtra’s way of tailoring tractors as far as possible according to individual customer orders.
“The idea emerged to take customisation and customer service even further, to make them completely individual. What if customers could get all the accessories and equipment they need directly from the factory? It was agreed within the company to explore whether there was demand for such a service. Already in the first months, we began to receive inquiries from around the world, even though the plan at first was to try this only in Finland,” recalls Loukiala.
In the beginning, there were no facilities, tools or even workers. Other names, such as the Custom Equipment Center and VIP were considered, but Unlimited was the most descriptive. The idea was to make different tractors for different countries and different contracting tasks, for example.
“I come from a farm near the factory, but I knew almost nothing about Valtra when I came to work here,” says Johan Oikari, the first technician to work at the Unlimited Studio. “The early days at the Unlimited Studio were challenging, as we were making custom parts behind blue tarpaulins in the corner of the hall. Then we got bigger premises, then even bigger ones, and now even these are getting too small. The best things about working here have been the feedback from customers, the variety of the work, and our great team.”
Individual tractors and small series production
The Unlimited Studio has become famous for its fully customised tractors. One farmer had special steps made for his tractor so that his dog would not hurt his paws when climbing into the cab. A sexy pink tractor was made for the Young Farmers organisation, with which they travelled around the country campaigning for agriculture pulling a hot tub on a trailer. However, a large share of Unlimited tractors these days involves a kind of small series production.
“For example, national defence forces may order dozens or hundreds of similarly equipped tractors, and a large contractor or road authority may order similar tractors every year for road maintenance work. Even if the customers are different contractors, there are often similar solutions for forest, airport or road maintenance work,” says Loukiala.
These days, the Unlimited Studio does not do everything by itself, utilising instead a large network of partners. •