The year 2021 is coming to an end. The whole year has been a period of strong growth and Finnish metal industry output has returned to pre-Corona levels faster than expected. More recently, however, there have been signs of a slowdown in sales. The reason for this is understandable; machinery and equipment manufacturers have full order books and record delivery times, making it difficult to anticipate and commit buyers to an order. Another major factor slowing down trade is the rapidly rising costs that machine manufacturers are forced to pass on in their sales prices. Despite the slowdown, the outlook for next year is exceptionally bright. COVID-19 is still a major influence in all our lives, but its impact on industry is steadily decreasing.
At present, the industry’s common concerns include a severe shortage of skilled workers, the availability of raw materials and components, and soaring costs. The situation is made particularly difficult by the fact that, at the same time as there is a shortage of products, their manufacturers are having to limit their production for various reasons. Rapidly rising energy costs have pushed up the price of fertilisers and steel, for example, sharply during the autumn, and the situation is expected to get worse as energy demand increases with colder weather. Fertiliser factories have already been shut down and there is a threat that steel mills will have to do the same during the energy price spikes. In the future, steel prices will also come under price pressure from process changes and related investments to reduce CO2 emissions. Forecasting is always difficult, but at the moment it seems that the problems of raw material availability will continue for a long time as capacity is not being increased. Steel prices are still under pressure to rise, so a rapid fall in prices is also not expected, but it is possible that further increases are still on the way.
As we reported in the previous press release, our order book growth was particularly rapid in the early part of the year. Growth has continued, but now the order backlog is spread over a longer period. Our own capacity has been increasing all the time and production has gone well. During the year, our headcount has increased by 37 people, all of whom work in production. This is clearly reflected in turnover, which has increased by almost 50% compared to the same period last year. More recruitments are being made all the time and, in cooperation with educational institutions, an apprenticeship scheme has been launched to gather a dedicated Jame-Shaft team. Security of supply is also slowly improving, although we are still far from a satisfactory level as we have not yet managed to get the deficit sufficiently low. However, the biggest problem is becoming the availability of raw materials, which causes us to disrupt and reorganise our own production from time to time and can lead to long delays. In most cases, a solution has always been found, but the situation has become more and more complicated.
All in all, it has been an exceptional autumn. Normally, autumn has always been a time of slightly lower demand, but this time this has not been the case and demand has remained very strong. The rest of the year looks set to continue in the same vein, which is why we will not be taking any extra days off at Christmas and New Year again this year. Production will therefore run normally on all possible weekdays, but holidays may affect e.g. transport.
We have announced new investments in every newsletter this year. This newsletter is no exception, as this is an area where things are happening all the time. The investments made early this year are already in full use in production and the autumn 2021 investments announced in August are on track. In addition, two new acquisitions can be announced, the SMX multifunctional lathe from Doosan and a production cell consisting of a lathe and machining centre and two robots from Okuma. Of the previously reported autumn investments, the automatic forklift system is now in place and the Okuma LT2000 lathe has just arrived and installation has started.
The following is a summary of ongoing and already finalised investments to further increase capacity. Investments will continue from now on and several new equipment purchases are being finalised. We will be able to tell you more once the contracts have been signed.
In addition to the investment and production rush, sustainability has been a key theme at Jame-Shaft. This approach is based on the company’s values, which have led us to focus on three areas: Customer focus, staff well-being and caring for the environment.
The cornerstone of customer focus is the desire to enable customers to do business successfully. We do this through continuous improvement and state-of-the-art technology to ensure consistent product quality. Add to this a good service attitude and a willingness to develop and we have the opportunity to be ‘the strongest link in your supply chain’.
At Jame-Shaft, there has always been an emphasis on staff well-being and supporting and encouraging others. The results of our annual job satisfaction surveys are undeniable proof of our success. Transparent communication, improved safety and well-being at work, and staff well-being benefits support our staff as individuals and as a team. We don’t compartmentalise our staff, we are all proudly ‘Jamelaisia’.
Sustainable use of natural resources and care for the environment have played an important role in Jame-Shaft’s operations. Years ago, we made the decision to buy only fossil-free electricity. In order to improve working conditions and utilize the waste heat from the heat treatment to heat the production facilities, a few years ago we invested around a million euros to renew the air conditioning system. At the same time, all lighting was changed to LED technology. Naturally, we operate under the ISO14001 environmental management system and prioritise energy efficiency in our new investments.
Let’s hope that the positive momentum in our industry continues and that problems with access to materials and components do not seriously disrupt our operations or those of our customers. Cooperation and openness are the best ways to overcome the challenges ahead. We can only renew our hope that we will also be able to meet in person as soon as possible. COVID-19 is not letting up and the return to normal human interaction is getting further and further away. Nevertheless, we are happy to show you around our factory and in our spacious premises it is safe to do so.
We wish all our customers a successful and productive end of 2021!