BRONTO SKYLIFT: “GOOD COOPERATION IS IMPORTANT WHEN MAKING THE WORLD’S BEST ACCESS PLATFORMS”

Bronto Skylift manufactures access platforms whose main functions are to save lives and protect infrastructure in challenging circumstances, high above the ground. The company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of hydraulic access platforms, and a world record holder. Bronto Skylift relies on the cooperation with FSP. 

Bronto Skylift’s cooperation with FSP began in January 2019, when the surface treatment operations of Patria’s Hämeenlinna factory were transferred to FSP from the previous operator.

– The start of our cooperation with FSP was a clear continuum. The key personnel at the paint shop remained the same, but FSP was better equipped than the previous firm to develop operations. The Hämeenlinna paint shop is also logistically well located for our purposes, says Purchaser Ilkka Laurila from Bronto Skylift Oy.

Bronto Skylift is the world’s market leader in access platforms over 50 metres tall. They also hold the world record for the world’s tallest hydraulic access platform. Majority of Bronto’s products are exported. A globally operating company, Bronto delivers machines to over 120 countries, and all of them are still manufactured in Finland. 

– Our tallest access platform is 112 metres high, but we are able to make even taller platforms if needed. As important as height, however, is the sideways reach. Targets are usually behind some corner of roof, so it is important for access platforms to reach as far as possible to the sides as well. Operating in small areas and confined spaces requires making the platforms more and more compact. A 35-metre machine, manufactured by Bronto, has been granted an innovation award, Laurila says. 

– Our main components, like beams – the machine’s upper part – are made at our Pori factory. The lower part is constructed at the Tampere factory, building the machines on top of a truck. All parts are delivered to the Tampere assembly plant complete with surface treatment. We also run our own paint shop in Pori, but FSP is our largest coating subcontractor. FSP processes many of the parts used in products, including up to a thousand support legs per year, Laurila says.

FSP INVESTS IN DEVELOPING SURFACE TREATMENT

FSP’s strengths in cooperation include quality, supply reliability, flexibility and the development of surface treatment.

– For us, FSP is an important partner. We work closely together and try to locate potential development points. With multiple paint shops, we aim to ensure the consistency of quality in surface treatment with detailed instructions, Laurila says. 

Bronto’s experience of smaller subcontractors is that they lack the resources needed for long-term development.

– The quality organization of a larger operator has the time and resources for development. This is a major reason for us to choose FSP, Laurila says. 

Purchaser Marko Lepomäki, from Bronto Skylift’s Pori factory, agrees:

– FSP is able to meet our needs, he adds. 

It is challenging to determine the quality of a surface. 

– Measuring film thickness, tint differences and gloss is easy, but there are no official measures for the visual part. This is something we are currently looking into, Laurila contemplates.

COSTS AND LEAD-TIMES KEPT IN CHECK

Along the years, the requirement level of coating has been increased. Still, there is a need to keep costs and lead-times in control. 

–  The visual look of our product surface is already closer to car painting than traditional industrial painting. People look at the product in its entirety, so the surface quality must be almost uniform from front bumper to rear bumper, Ilkka Laurila says. 

The paint is chosen on the basis of Bronto’s demand and tests. 

– At the moment our products are surface treated to corrosivity category C3-Medium, but it is likely that we will move on to a higher category, Laurila says. 

In its access platforms, Bronto Skylift mainly uses tints from the RAL chart. 

–  We have around 15 to 20 customer tints defined under the Bronto code. If a customer wants to define their own tint, we will first see if a suitable paint is available in Finland. If we are unable to source it locally, we will draw up the scheme ourselves, Laurila says.

Wet coat used annually adds up to about 30,000 litres, and powder coat up to 10,000 kg. However, the share of powder coat is increasing. 

– Powder coats don’t have volatile organic compounds, the VOC emissions, which is of course important. But also, the technical properties of powder coats are developing in a way that they will continue to replace wet coats. In addition, automatic coating lines are able to deliver a constant, even spray powder coat, leaving a uniform and durable coat finish, Laurila knows. 

“I HAVE TO ADMIT, WE ARE CONTENT”

Ilkka Laurila compliments FSP’s operations when everything goes well – but also in difficult situations. 

– Good cooperation is important when you are making the world’s best access platforms, and in FSP, we have a reliable partner. When you think about quality – everything positive tends to be forgotten and never discussed. But good heavens, if there’s even a minor fault, we will surely bring it up. With FSP, these issues have also been dealt with. I have to admit, we are content, Ilkka Laurila praises. 

The ownership of Bronto Skylift changed in 2016 to the Japanese Morita Group. This meant a complete transformation in the company culture. 

– Under American ownership, quartile economy played a big role in everything. In Japanese business culture, on the other hand, a crucial value is trust, and supply reliability is one of our key indicators. The Japanese appreciate our high technical know-how, training and constant development of working methods, Ilkka Laurila sums up. 

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