Small businesses are honing the spearheads of their expertise amidst toughening competition.
CE markings became mandatory for load-bearing steel structures in all EU and EEC member states in 2014. In Sweden, the regulation had entered into force already in 2013. For many small entrepreneurs in Europe, the regulation entailed a re-evaluation of operations and spurred investment in areas of special expertise. This was the case also for Mik-Rip Oy, a family-owned business based in Sipoo, Finland.
“We knew that competition in the steel industry would get even fiercer with the advent of the CE marking. We had been aware for some time that we needed a development direction. So we decided to give up the manufacturing of load-bearing steel structures and focus on surface treatment. We invested in the new painting shop at the right moment,” says Petri Mikkola, CEO of Mik-Rip Oy.
The decision to build a new painting shop was made in January 2012. Acquiring the necessary licences turned out to be more difficult than expected, however, and the company spent a whole year navigating the tangle of bureaucracy. Construction finally began in May 2013. Even though matters such as assessing the need for an environmental licence took far too long, Mik-Rip does not regret the decision to build the painting shop. Mikkola, who designed every detail of the new facility himself, nevertheless advises anyone considering a similar investment to always request all authorisations and discussions in writing.
The fruitful and long cooperation between Mik-Rip's Petri Mikkola and Jyrki Sandberg of Teknos is based on trust and solid professional expertise on both sides. The choice of paint is most often determined by the customer's individual specifications.
“Neste and Fortum, for example, require their products to be painted with high-solids paints. It is not profitable or necessary to store many different types of paint, since Teknos' TEKNODUR COMBI 3430 works equally well for single-layer painting and as the top coat in multi-layer paint systems,” says Mikkola.
Work in the new painting shop is both pleasant and efficient.
“Demand has been brisk and the improved conditions in the new painting shop, such as lighting and ventilation, have improved the quality of work even further,”Mikkola continues.
Mikkola is particularly pleased with the new, energy-efficient heating system. The smart technology recovers heat from the painting chamber ventilation system. The system circulates interior air and only takes air from the outside when the gas content of air inside the painting shop exceeds a certain level.
“The premises are heated in an environmentally friendly manner, with high-quality wood chips. We have a 150 Kwh Herz boiler that burns the chips so cleanly that 100 cubic metres of wood chips only generates 120 litres of ash. During the cold early summer weeks, the waste heat generated by the shot blasting machine was enough to heat the entire shop. The system is going to pay for itself in a few years,”Mikkola estimates.
As Petri Mikkola is giving a tour of the new painting shop's state-of-the-art technology, a lorry with a familiar-looking figure on the bed drives into the yard. The 3.5 metres high Teknos paintbrush rooster weighing 1,500 kg, designed by Pauli Partanen and manufactured from steel plate by Jessirec Oy, has arrived at Mik-Rip for painting.
The story behind the Teknos logo dates back more than 60 years, to a time when the company's first laboratory was built in an old henhouse in Tuomarila, Helsinki. The likeable paintbrush figure, so reminiscent of a rooster, still represents the high-quality Teknos brand. The new work of art can be seen at the Teknos factory in Rajamäki.