Europe’s First Awea LG6040 Machining Center For Škoda Transtech Oy
Škoda Transtech Oy has acquired the gantry-type, mobile portal AWEA LG6040 machining center, the first of its kind to be delivered to Europe. This machine, supplied by Machinery Oy, with its large dimensions and versatile features, allows for the precise and efficient machining of railcar bogies with a single setup.
Škoda Transtech is a leading European manufacturer of rolling stock designed for demanding northern conditions and a significant contract manufacturer of medium-heavy engineering products.
“We have over three decades of experience in designing and manufacturing railcar products. We are particularly proud of our double-deck passenger cars and low-floor trams. Our headquarters are located in Oulu, our factory is in Otanmäki, and our maintenance units operate in Helsinki and Tampere. Škoda Transtech is part of the Czech Škoda Group,” says Marko Hurskainen, the Plant Manager of the Otanmäki unit.
Škoda Transtech Oy had a turnover of €94.2 million in 2021. “We plan to steadily increase our turnover and support Škoda Group’s growth goals to achieve a €2 billion turnover over the next five years. So, we also have the goal of significantly increasing our turnover and profitability figures,” Hurskainen notes.
Reliable Total Provider
“We are a total provider who can deliver products fully tested, if needed. We consider ourselves a reliable operator who keeps promises, so our delivery reliability is at a high level. Railcar production requires a robust certification process, and we operate according to the following certifications: IRIS International railway industry standard, ISO 9001, EN 15085: Welding of railway vehicles and components, EN 3834, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, and ETJ+,” says Hurskainen.
Recruitment and Training with Long-term Perspective
Currently, the company has a workforce of 770 employees in Finland. “The large generations have mostly retired, but still, about 15-20 people retire annually. We have been recruiting and training new professionals in various fields with a long-term perspective, aiming to compensate for the impact of experts’ retirement. We believe our expertise is high in many areas. There is still potential for development, especially in leveraging digitalization for production advantage. We have been collaborating with various educational institutions for a long time, offering internships and opportunities for practical training. In addition, both universities and universities of applied sciences conduct internships and thesis work for us,” says Hurskainen.
80% of the Production is in Rolling Stock
“As for rolling stock products, we currently manufacture trams for Helsinki City Transport and Tampere Tram Ltd, as well as the production of Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH trams in collaboration with Škoda Group’s Plzen factory. We perform subcontracting work for several different customers. Approximately 80% of our turnover comes from rolling stock production, while about 20% comes from contract manufacturing,” Hurskainen explains. “The batch size for rolling stock projects varies from 5 to 80 units per project, depending on the customer. Since we are a relatively small player in the rolling stock sector, we aim to serve our customers in the best possible way by customizing our products to meet their specific needs. Our production chain includes sub-assembly, welding, machining, surface treatment, assembly, and testing. With this comprehensive offering, we serve public transport companies as well as machinery and equipment manufacturers. For rolling stock, about 1/3 of the production is exported, with the remainder staying in Finland. In the case of subcontracting machine shop work, nearly all of it is exported, albeit indirectly,” he adds.
“Our recent trams in Tampere are products that we have developed and manufactured. We use electric drives and bogie structures manufactured by our parent company Škoda Group in these products. We delivered 20 trams to Tampere, and operations on the new tracks started in August 2021. Currently, the production of optional trams has started, including five trams,” Hurskainen notes.
Successful AWEA Delivery
The development of production is a crucial part of Škoda Transtech’s operations, and the technology department employs continuous improvement engineers, method engineers, manufacturing designers, and traditional work researchers. Among the recent development projects is the AWEA LG6040 portal milling machine, which was received in September 2022. The machine was put into production immediately after receiving it.
Hurskainen states that the delivery went quite smoothly, and the cooperation with the machine supplier, Machinery, was good throughout the implementation of the investment. “There was a slight delay of a few months due to global material availability and delayed shipping. Considering the global challenges, the delivery was very successful,” Hurskainen assesses.
“We clearly had a capacity shortage for machines of this size. We had supplemented our own capacity with subcontracting work. Additionally, one of the machines in use was quite old, and modernizing it was not an option. Therefore, with this AWEA investment, we are addressing our investment debt and some of the necessary subcontracting work,” he explains. “We have had an AWEA machining center since 2011, and we have been quite satisfied with it. The price-to-quality ratio has been good. In this AWEA investment, in the final stages, we had three alternative machines. Price was, of course, a significant factor, but delivery time and, of course, the technical features that fit our needs played a significant role in the procurement decision,” Hurskainen summarizes the factors that led to the machine selection.
Machining Bogie Structures with AWEA
Among AWEA’s features, Hurskainen highlights the machine structure and the machine portal guides, which enable stable machining. “AWEA’s dimensions of 6000x4000x1400 mm allow not only machining of subassemblies but also machining of welded structures. In the future, we will machine bogie structure sub-assemblies and fully welded bogie structures on this machine, which were previously machined with a radial drill. The machine’s capacity has already been fully utilized, and the AWEA operates in three shifts,” he notes. “When purchasing the machine, we defined reference parts for which machining programs were prepared in advance by Machinery/AWEA, and during the commissioning of the machine, we verified both machining times and accuracy. Now, the work performed on AWEA was previously mainly done on three different machining centers, and the machining of welded sub-assemblies was done with a radial drill. The productivity improvement brought by AWEA has already begun to be observed, but when all products are ramped up, we will see the real productivity improvement,” Hurskainen says.
“Fundamentally, the new AWEA is a standard model, and only the tools and camera systems have been tailored to our needs. The machine has not been specifically specified for a particular product but to enable the machining of existing products and to transfer the machining of larger machining centers, such as the machining of welded structures, including bogie structures,” Hurskainen explains the factors that led to the machine selection.
Strong Belief in Continued Success
“Currently, we operate in a 3-shift model for machining and subassembly. Welding, surface treatment, and equipping work in a 2-shift model. In railcar production, we have orders extending up to 2025, although not for the entire capacity. There are many open tender competitions in the market, so we strongly believe that both we and Škoda Group will continue to succeed. Machine shop subcontracting has not shown signs of slowing down for this year, but for next year, we budget for slightly lower volume,” Hurskainen contemplates the future.
News published on Eurometalli on November 22, 2022.