“The Goal Is to Keep Outages to a Minimum”
Vantaan Energia decided in 2015 to partner up with SVS Supervise Service, which is part of the Elcoline Group, in the welding of pressurized equipment. The contract includes installations and repairs that require welding and emergency welding operations at the Vantaa incinerator and Martinlaakso power plant. Vantaan Energia holds in high regard SVS’s expertise and high-quality outcomes in the welding of pressurized equipment because well-functioning pressure systems are an essential part of operating the plants safely.
The goal is to have the plants run smoothly and to keep outages to a minimum. Therefore, it is crucial that the partner is able to react quickly when alerted.
“SVS is one our most important framework agreement partners because we couldn’t really run our plant without a partner who specializes in the welding of pressure equipment,” says Antti Oikarinen, a mechanical engineer at Vantaan Energia.
Legally Mandated Work Requires Specialized Expertise
Oikarinen notes that it also makes the most sense for them to get an expert partner to weld pipelines because these tasks are regulated by the Finnish Pressure Equipment Act, and they require special skills and certifications that would be difficult to maintain in their own personnel.
“Having an outside partner reduces our maintenance organization’s workload and brings in the kind of specialized expertise that we need. The power plant’s conditions for welding are often quite challenging. Still, there isn’t an inch of leeway when it comes to quality. Each weld and joint needs to be absolutely secure,” he explains.
SVS and Vantaan Energia work in close cooperation at times. Maintenance shutdowns are planned together, feedback is given both ways, and operations are developed openly. SVS will continue its contractual cooperation with Vantaan Energia also after 2022, when Vantaan Energia renounces the use of coal and expands its incinerator plant. As a matter of fact, the renewing production highlights the joined development of operations even more.
“It’s a fundamental principle for SVS that we deliver what we promised and that we provide our services flexibly and when they are needed. Our machine shop in Kouvola makes it possible for us to provide a comprehensive service portfolio. We can manufacture the parts needed at power plants ourselves, so our clients don’t need to depend on third party suppliers,” says Matti Käki of Elcoline Group’s SVS.
A post in the Southern Hemisphere when the Finnish winter is at its darkest may sound like a daydream. However, it’s a regular workday for mechanic Eetu Pitkänen. He works on Elcoline’s ABB Marine contract, and his two-to-three-week-long posts take him, for example, onto cruise ships to do maintenance work. The job calls for flexibility and a cool head, and even luxury cruise ships can feel jam-packed at times.
Last November, Pitkänen spent three weeks sailing the Pacific Ocean on a cruise ship. He and three other mechanics stepped on board in Sydney, and the ship then headed towards New Zealand and the islands of Vanuatu.
“We did our work when the ship was at port and its propulsion system was turned off. We usually had a six-to-eight-hour window for work, and planned maintenance tasks had to be completed in that time. Mechanics have a huge responsibility in making sure that the ship doesn’t get stalled at port and is able to depart on time,” Pitkänen explains.
Working Abroad Takes Guts and Language Skills
Although the maintenance work at ports isn’t physically too demanding, it requires a cool and collected mindset due its tight windows for maintenance work. Physically, the most demanding work takes place during docking, when mechanics work long hours for a week straight. Being away from home also tests workers’ spirits, and even a large ship can feel crowded after a couple weeks.
“This post was meant to last two weeks, but it was extended to three because we couldn’t get to work at one port for reasons that had nothing to do with us. Schedule changes are a common occurrence, and this type of work is for people who can be flexible. Coworkers are, of course, important in a job like this, and fortunately every trip so far has had a great crew. You need to be able to speak English because, for example, on this trip there were two of us Finns, an Estonian mechanic, and a Polish one,” says Pitkänen.
New Locations Bring a Lot to the Table
What about the highlights of this type of work? Well, mechanics can’t work at every port, so sometimes they get to hop on solid land and go explore.
“The most memorable part of this trip was the spectacular Vanuatu, where we were able to spend time on the beach and explore the island. The coolest part of traveling for work is definitely seeing new places and experiencing new things. The pay is also good.”
Pitkänen has taken on posts that involve traveling basically throughout his working career.
“I first worked for Elcoline in 2011. After that, I’ve worked back home in Finland, but also around the globe, for example, for the mining, ship building, and petrochemical industries. As a young lad, I hopped on the ‘working abroad’ train without putting too much thought into it, and I guess I’m still riding it,” notes Pitkänen, laughing.
Key Account Manager Tero Kopola has been working for Elcoline Construction at Leppävirta, Finland, since 2016. Tero joined the Elcoline design team even before graduating B.Sc.
– My first assignment at Elcoline was to implement a real estate automation project for Kuopio University Hospital. It was a very enjoyable start to an engineer’s career says Tero Kopola with a smile.
Tero is currently working on a number of school and daycare centre construction projects conducted by Elcoline Construction. His work tasks include project management, work supervision, electrification design, offer calculations and material acquisitions. His work job description has expanded and become increasingly versatile.
“Solving problems is my thing.”
Elcoline invests in the development of its employees’ careers. Employees are given responsibility, provided that they are willing to accept it.
– New challenges and work tasks have always interested me. I want to learn new things and utilise my competence and capacity to the maximum. In my view, it is important to retain a close contact with electrical engineering when assuming new, more extensive responsibilities in one’s work.
– One of the best elements in electrification design is that you can see the results of your design as functional solutions in ready-made buildings. There are new challenges to rise to every day, and this requires the capacity to solve technical problems, plus the ability to put applications into practice, as well as creativity. I also enjoy the close cooperation with construction designers, HEVAC designers and architectural designers.
We never lay down our work gloves in front of challenges
Elcoline is currently in the process of vigorous growth, and the company has extended its business into new branches without prejudice.
– Elcoline sometimes makes surprising employment offers to bold and curious job seekers. We encourage people to study and experiment, and support their career advancement.
When Elcoline Construction is engaged in a project, none of the team members ever lay down their work gloves in front of the challenge at hand, however difficult it may appear to be. Tero appreciates his colleagues’ solution-centred and energetic work attitude and assumes this stems from the company’s workplace atmosphere.
The employees’ well-being is supported by a comprehensive package of occupational health services. The working hours are flexible, enabling people to complete their studies during employment, for example. The workplace atmosphere is relaxed, pleasant and encouraging.
Key Account Manager
Elcoline was one of the main contractors participating in SSAB’s blast furnace 1 periodic maintenance project at the company’s steel mill in Raahe, Finland. The installation contract consisted of a partial sheath replacement for the furnace including the required plumbing jobs on the cooling system. There were demanding jobs to do during the disassembly and installation phases. The project’s successful implementation was based on advance planning, work safety and the work of a professionally competent team.
A steel mill’s soul and heart is the blast furnace whose functional capacity must be verified by means of an overhaul project at an interval of 10–12 years. In periodic maintenance, any worn-out sections of the blast furnace sheath are to be replaced, including the required cooling system components, and the fireproof furnace linings, among others. SSAB wanted to use a project implementer with previous experience of heavy industry repair and maintenance projects, as well as the capacity to conduct extensive projects without compromising on quality.
– Periodic maintenance is always extremely important for us since everything at a steel mill starts from the blast furnace. It was crucial to keep everything on schedule as any extended production break immediately affects the final production volume at our Raahe Steel Mill, says SSAB project manager Jarmo Naula.
Appropriate advance planning is the key to successful project implementation, and their investment focused on it. In addition to planning the various work phases, resources and the schedule, for example, preparatory work was done on the blast furnace surroundings, and on the equipment installed in the prefabricated blocks, in early 2019. Preparatory work and equipping the components for installation were essential matters, so as to enable the safe and timely installation of the components weighing some 20 tonnes.
– We were highly satisfied with Elcoline’s capacity to plan the various work phases in a fashion that allowed us to work smoothly to schedule throughout the actual maintenance shutdown. We had total control of everything at all times, and any encountered challenges could be resolved without delay. In view of the end result, I think a good worksite atmosphere is the key factor. There were no problems in communication, and the morning site meetings promoted openness and cooperation. This allowed us to focus on essential matters.
Never compromise on work safety
Work safety is of primary importance in SSAB’s business, due to the fact that a steel mill is an extremely exacting work environment: there are numerous installation jobs carried out from scaffolding, the risk of burns or falling items, and tasks to be done with the process partly in operation. You simply cannot compromise on work safety issues.
– Elcoline’s work safety competence is of a very high standard, and their processes function in practice, not only on paper. Elcoline has familiarised itself with work safety matters on a versatile basis, and they had also chartered the project’s potential risks carefully in advance. The work methods and safety instructions were reviewed accurately and the safety procedures monitored and reported as required.
SSAB was also satisfied with Elcoline’s work in other respects during the project.
– The project management team had everything under control. They had good supervisors and a competent team of mechanics. It was easy to see that they had invested appropriately in the required project resources.
At the forefront resolving industrial challenges
Jarmo Naula has been collaborating with Elcoline for a long period, and his view of the company’s competence is based on experience. As he sees it, Elcoline is a continuously developing partner with the capacity for regeneration.
– In my view, Elcoline is a spearhead company in the field. They want to be among the very first to rise to current challenges, and the solutions they offer are of a new type. Their design includes 3D technology, for example, which means that the installation images are available in various forms, not only on paper. I also regard their personnel composition as a suitable combination of acquired experience and young expertise. In a team of experts from various fields, professional competence can be exploited with maximum effect and all members have a chance for personal development.
Project: SSAB Raahe, Finland, Periodic Maintenance on Blast Furnace #1
Planning and implementation: Q1-Q2 2019
Advance planning: work phases, resources, logistics, schedule, and any preparatory installation jobs
Maintenance shutdown: work management, measurements, installation and welding jobs
Number of Elcoline personnel on the project: approximately 80 employees
“The machine shop and the staff’s new line of expertise help us provide more comprehensive services to our clients.”
Industrial maintenance service provider Elcoline Group keeps growing at a brisk pace, acquiring power plant boiler manufacturing, installation, and maintenance enterprise SVS Supervise Service Oy. As a result of faster-than-projected organic growth and this acquisition, Elcoline’s sales will exceed 30 million euros this year, and the company will soon employ over 300 people. The merger means that Elcoline’s service profile will now include power plant boiler manufacturing.
2018 National Entrepreneur Award winner Elcoline Group seeks rapid growth both organically and through several acquisitions. The company’s goal is to grow, reach a revenue of 100 million euros, and create 300 new jobs in Finland over the next five years.
“Our clients want more comprehensive service packages and to work with large, reliable enterprises. SVS Supervise Service’s expertise and the machine shop in Voikkaa are the ideal addition to our services. This deal ushers us to the next echelon of expertise and enterprise size in terms of, for example, industrial standstill situations,” says Elcoline Group CEO Leif Backman.
SVS Supervise Service is a well-established business with a long history in Finland’s Kymenlaakso region, and the company’s major clients include power plants in Southern Finland and the area’s paper industry. The SVS acquisition promotes Elcoline’s presence and business in the Kymenlaakso area and provides the company with a new service line in boiler manufacturing and maintenance.
“Maintenance processes by and large include repairs and installing new equipment. An active machine shop gives us more control over the whole delivery chain. Our clients benefit from these full-service deliveries in terms of quality, faster processing, and savings through reduced costs. At the moment, SVS’s machines and production lines serve those who need boilers, but we’re already looking into expanding these operations to new lines of service,” explains Backman.
SVS Supervise Service will continue operations under their established brand as part of Elcoline Group.
Elcoline is gaining momentum on the recruitment front
Elcoline’s and SVS’s complementing services and operational environments made for a smooth merger. A founding member of SVS, CEO Markku Korpivaara also notes that a search for someone to keep the company in action has recently become relevant.
“I am very happy to see that our operations will continue together with a steadily growing enterprise in Elcoline. We complement each other well, and this opens up new avenues of growth for us. It’s also worthwhile to note that Elcoline has been very successful in building their employer profile, which can be seen in easily achieved hirings in a challenging industry,” says Korpivaara.
To Elcoline, recruitment is one of the company’s core processes. There is a strong effort to invest in employees by providing a good range of training and career opportunities. A lot of attention is given to finding the most skilled people and persons with significant potential, as Elcoline is committed to creating 300 new jobs by 2023.
“Competent people make for a successful company. It’s one of our passions and an honor to help skilled people grow and advance in their careers. Elcoline is constantly developing employees’ skill sets, and this acquisition further expands possible career paths in Finland and abroad,” notes Backman.
Photo: Leif Backman (on the left) and Markku Korpivaara.
For further information:
Leif Backman, CEO
Tel. +358 43 824 3460
SVS Supervise Service Oy
Markku Korpivaara, CEO
Tel. +358 40 526 1695
Established in 2002, Elcoline Group is an industrial maintenance and contracting enterprise. The company provides, for example, electrical and automation installations, HVAC installations, instrumentation, welding services for pressurized pipelines, mechanical maintenance, and design and consulting services for the aforementioned fields. The group’s operations are divided into four operative subsidiaries: Elcoline Plant Service Oy, Elcoline Construction Oy, Elcoline Piping Oy, and Elcoline Oy. Clients include international industrial enterprises in mining, the chemical and petrochemical field, pulp and paper, electricity generation, the maritime industry, metal, and construction. The company employs over 200 professionals at contract sites across the globe. In 2018, Elcoline’s turnover was around 20 million euros.
Operating from Voikkaa in Kouvola, Finland, SVS Supervise Service Oy is company specializing in manufacturing, installing, repairing, and maintaining industrial boilers’ pressure parts since 1996. The enterprise has a wealth of experience, wide-ranging expertise, and a comprehensive selection of machines to handle any kind of work within the industry. SVS’s clientele consists of Finland’s energy industry’s largest plant suppliers, power plants, and major producers of paper, cardboard, and pulp. The company’s products and services are used all over the world. SVS employs 60 professionals and has a turnover of over 6 million euros.