Coast of robots

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti Photos: Cimcorp & Julia Hannula

What do the following have in common: a world-leading portal robot manufacturer, a company focusing on the automation of financial management and business processes, and a tree seedling planting device manufacturer that radiates solid international growth potential? The core activity of each one focuses on the utilisation of robotics and automation. And they are all based in Satakunta.

The Swedes have Robotdalen, the Danes have RoboCluster and we Finns have the Robocoast of Satakunta. Robocoast is a very apt name because as many as 100 automation and robotics companies operate in Satakunta.
– In Ulvila alone, there is a cluster of a few dozen top companies in the industry, says the coordinator of the Robocoast network, Senior Consultant Mikko Puputti of the regional development company Prizztech Oy.

A common brand providing business support

The Robocoast network was created to develop a common brand for operators in the automation industry in Satakunta and to market the expertise and products of individual companies in the network. In collaboration with the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Prizztech Oy coordinates and convenes the network.
– In the first phase, we compiled a company catalogue of automation companies that already consists of over 30 companies in the area. 

The educational and research organisations in the area invest in research and expertise in the automation industry. The objective of the network is to promote collaboration between companies in the industry and higher education institutions.
– In SAMK's research operations, automation and robotics form one of the strategic focuses and there has been active discussion about establishing a minor subject in robotics at the Pori department of the Tampere University of Technology, Puputti reveals.

Mikko Puputti © Julia Hannula

Expertise in automation also has a great impact on the success and competitive development of other industries. Robots work just as well in Finland as they do in China, so it is no longer profitable to transport extensively automated manufacturing to faraway places due to logistical costs.
– Sinituote is a good example of this. The company manufactures incredibly high-quality plastic products at their highly automated production facility in Kokemäki.

New challengers and a need for investment

There are several large and traditional automation companies in Satakunta. Alongside these companies grows a new pool of agile challengers with nothing less than interesting growth potential. Expertise and the ability to utilise automation and robotics have reached a nationally high level in Finland, but investments are lagging behind. In Puputti's view, there are two options.
– We can decide that we will focus on developing manufacturing in Finland and invest in automation and robotics. Alternatively, we will most likely see even steeper reductions of manufacturing operations.

He does not expect work to run out as robotics steps into the picture, but jobs will be different.
– Robots could be of assistance in health care, for example, by making nurses' work more pleasant. For example, if a robot assisted in tasks requiring physical strength, such as lifting, nurses could focus their energy on tasks for which they have been trained. 

Read about the pioneers and new challengers who operate in Satakunta:
Dream factories from Ulvila
Risutec builds forests
Robotics revolutionises office work, too