In the food industry, hygiene alone sets very high-quality standards for the equipment. Expertise is also measured in numerous moving parts, long trajectories requiring constancy of size, both in rust-resistant materials and thin material thicknesses.
“I have strong confidence in the Stairon expertise. They fearlessly tackle even larger assemblies, which are usually difficult to get bids for,” praises Jarkko Kokko, Head of Productionat Sulbana Oy, a global supplier of innovative cheese-making equipment.
Large-scale cooperation for mutual benefit
The partnership between Sulbana and Stairon began based on good references. The scope of supply has expanded over the years, from welding subcontracting all the way to component purchases and assemblies on a larger scale.
“The first delivery that introduced me to Stairon dealt with large pressing plates for cheese moulds. These were followed by three salt pools, the largest of which measured 18x3x3 metres, and it was delivered to us complete,” recalls Kokko.
Operating in Finland from Kauhajoki and Seinäjoki, Sulbana is now part of the German, family-owned Alpma Group, one of the world’s leading suppliers of cheese-making processes and equipment.
“We are currently working on two cheese-mould stores. We provided Stairon with the production drawings, and they oversaw the work planning and procurement of materials. The stores, which are about six metres high, are also test-assembled at Stairon and then dismantled into segments for transport. This is an advantage as a customer, because the larger the assemblies we are able to purchase under one roof, the more our own workload is reduced.”
From Finland to the world with high quality and on time
Most of the equipment manufactured by Sulbana in Finland is exported. The largest markets are Central Europe and the United States, in addition to deliveries around the world from Japan to South America.
“The number one priority in cooperation is Stairon’s reliability, both in terms of quality and security of supply. Transports and installations, shipping from around the world, must be arranged well in advance, as they are very difficult and expensive to move. It is important that we can rely on the promised delivery time and that delays are communicated immediately rather than at the last minute, when it is difficult to do anything about it,” Kokko stresses.
Similarly, at the Sulbana end, the aim is to keep response times as short as possible, so that workers at Stairon do not have to needlessly wait for information that could affect their work.
“When things run smoothly, we work together to find solutions to any potential problems, rather than just saying ‘that’s your problem’. Communication and weekly reports with Stairon run as they should without having to tease out the information.”
Equipment worth millions have their unique challenges
Kokko has first-hand experience of the flexibility of Stairon.
“Changes in delivery times or storage have always been well agreed upon. Once, even during a mid-week holiday, we finalised and checked a delivery together with Stairon’s project manager,” he says with a smile.
When seeking continuity in a partnership, the chosen supplier is not always the one with the lowest absolute price, but instead the most economically viable partner. The Sulbana equipment, worth millions, have their own unique challenges, which can only be understood through experience.
“Our quality requirements always cause challenges for new suppliers, which is why we are looking for a long-term partner who knows our needs without having to constantly monitor them. I also appreciate Stairon’s interest in developing as a supplier and their willingness to offer a more advanced product than just a welding assembly. For example, with work planning coming from Stairon, we achieve much more value for the entire supply chain,” says Kokko.
You don’t learn from problems by sweeping them under the rug
Confidence in skills comes from Stairon’s strong expertise in different areas of work. The fact is that complaints cannot always be avoided, but it requires skill to learn from them for the future.
“Stairon has understood that quality does not only improve in offices, so they go through the negative issues internally, right through to production. As a customer, I have gained the impression that they genuinely strive to learn from any potential mistakes and not just sweep things under the rug.”
Production Director Hannu-Pekka Peräntie at Stairon stands behind this trustworthy and open cooperation.
“Cooperation with Sulbana has successfully taken us out of our comfort zone and challenged us to evolve. As a result, we are more prepared and also bolder in the face of new challenges,” he concludes.
In the picture: Simo Harju, Project Manager at Stairon, and Jarkko Kokko, Head of Productionat Sulbana Oy, observing the cheese-making store under fabrication.