The beginning of 2018 was still a time of strong growth in the Finnish metal industry. However, the growth seems to have stabilized through this autumn. All in all, our total invoicing was still at a good level, but open orders have somewhat decreased. This shows clearly at Jame-Shaft in August, invoicing was still very good in August but the number of orders had already decreased somewhat. Compared with last year, total invoicing was less in September and October than the year before. Partly, it is due to normal seasonal fluctuations, but also, we have had the lowest sales figures often in October for several years in a row. From there on, the orders have increased gradually towards the spring. Nevertheless, it is clear, that invoicing this autumn won’t increase compared with the same period last year.
We would like to thank all of you who visited our stand at the Subcontracting Trade Fair in Tampere this year. The fair was once again a successful event and a great place to meet people and exchange ideas. However, you could sense a slight uncertainty among visitors concerning the future. Many companies had already experienced lower sales figures than expected. Another reason for concern was that the prices for some more rare raw materials had risen again and not all materials were available at all times either. Jame-Shaft is in a better situation to ride-out fluctuations in raw material and prices, because we have been well prepared for situations like this. Primarily thanks to several purchase channels and our own business forecasts, the lack of raw materials has not disturbed our deliveries. Of course, there have been some extra costs involved as we had to use alternative purchase channels. To assist our customers, we made a new video for the subcontracting fair. It explains the importance, time and effort we put in to quality control and testing to produce consistently high-performance pieces. You can watch the video here–>
Jame-Shaft had a very busy beginning of the year, which, resulted in a turnover of 17.4 M€ at the end of June when the accounting period ended. This clearly exceeded our original budget. There was a marked growth of 30 % compared with the previous fiscal year and this is a truly outstanding result. For the current accounting period, we had budgeted a slight growth, but now, after the first two quarters, we can state that we will stay at the same level as last year or even somewhat lower. On the other hand, we do expect the spring of 2019 to be very good again.
Thanks to the big investments we have made during the past two years, we have substantially improved our capacity compared with the previous year. The machines that were installed last winter (last of which were the multipurpose turning machine and horizontal machining centre) and the new turning machine along with the robots that arrived in the late summer of 2018 are all now fully operational which in turn, increases our capacity. The number of staff has stayed the same compared with last spring. However, we have employed five more people during the past twelve months. Thanks to our increased capacity, we can now take new orders and even new customers. Another key feature of increased capacity has been an improved certainty of delivery. It is worth noting that our certainty of delivery has been improving consistently and has since exceeded an average of 95 % this autumn.
Even though the autumn has not been as good as we expected, it has none so ever effected our strategy or development plans. According to our strategy, we are still trying to grow the business and to make it possible we need to carry on with our investment plans. Part of this strategy plan is that we will get an additional space of 1800 m2 within the same building in early 2019. The new space will be refurbished to the same level as all the other production facilities and will be equipped with LED lighting and heat recovery ventilation. During the spring, the whole of the finishing section (grinding and hard turning) will be moved into this new space.
We have also acquired a new cylindrical turning lathe equipped with robotic functioning. These machines will arrive in March and will be placed in the new facilities.
We are going to have a new case hardening line where the finishing section is today. The ground works will commence as soon as the grinding machines have been moved, and the new case hardening line will be installed during the next summer. To start with, there will be one new case hardening furnace, the same size as the existing ones, but the foundations and the rest of the environment will be built for a second furnace too. This enables a further increase in capacity in the future if needed. We expect the new hardening line to be in production in a year and generating a significant increase in heat treatment capacity.
In addition to machine investments, we have carried on improving systems that make production control easier. The key word has been visuality. We can now form a very clear picture of how the whole capacity is utilized and how each machine is loaded. Furthermore, we have continued with cleaning work stations and improving the general environment in the factory by painting walls and floors. As one concrete proof of utilizing digitality, is the use of electronic occupational accident insurance / near miss reports. Due to ease of use, this reporting tool has significantly increased the number of near miss reports, and therefore creating an even safer ground in the working environment.
We wish all our customers a successful and profitable autumn. Let’s hope that the strong demand for your products in the market continues and we can all enjoy the results together.