Risutec builds forests

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti Photos: Julia Hannula

At the moment, approximately 200,000 square kilometres of the earth's forests disappear every year. It is quite a large area if you compare it to the area of Finland, which is slightly over 300,000 square kilometres. This pace is detrimental to the health of the earth's ecosystems. And this pace is being slowed down by the Nakkila-based Risutec.

The building on a farm in Nakkila is filled with nothing. It was emptied the day before the interview, as a shipment of three seedling planting devices started journeying toward China. But what is this thing called Risutec?

The past and the present in Nakkila

Jussi Aikala, the CEO of Risutec, was a farm boy born in Ruskila, located in Nakkila. Due to a change of generation, he took the farm under his wing and obtained a forest machine to assist with farming. As he tended to his own and to an association's forests, he realised he needed a machine to take care of seedlings. When the energetic, do-it-yourself man happened to promise to assist with supervision of work at his acquaintance's machining company, he started to pick up skills and vision in the areas of metalwork and machining.
- I've been crazy enough with all this energy to find things out and work on them. As of now, I've worked with Risutec for over 10 years and things look better than ever right now. We receive requests for quotes on a daily basis and there are plenty of ongoing projects, Aikala says.

Automated efficiency for planting

Around the world, forests are felled to make way for oil palm, soy and tree plantations as well as cattle pastures. Considering the current rate of population growth, the need for these is not decreasing. When flat forested lands are adopted for farming, trees have to be planted elsewhere. 
– Suitable areas are, for example, slopes that cannot be used for farming as well as rocky areas, but it is difficult to plant seedlings in these places. This is where devices designed for challenging circumstances come in to the picture.

Risutec

Risutec's main products are seedling planting devices for not only northern conditions but also for subtropical areas. The most efficient devices can plant approximately 400 seedlings per hour. In addition to planting, the device takes care of fertilisation, watering and the application of pesticides and it also saves the location information of the planted seedling.
- When the location of each planted seedling is known, after-care can also be automated. For example, watering and weeding can be completed faster because of this kind of positioning.
– A so-called semi-mechanical planting device requires the work contribution of eight people. Risutec's device helps to complete the work with two people: one operates the device and the other replenishes supplies.

Efficiency and automation are global interests and this interest spells growth. The beginning of 2016 forecasts a turnover of half a million euros, which is significantly more compared to previous years.

A functioning subcontractor network is a lifeline

Before a planting device is ready for delivery to a client, for example, a Finnish forest subcontractor or a South American forest company, many work phases have been completed and many subcontractors have been at work. There are three other partners who work along Aikala, one Brazilian and two Finnish experts in different fields. In addition to them, reliable and long-term supplier relationships are important.
– I'm a proponent of local services and I collaborate to a great extent with tried and tested local partners from flame cutting to machining and from welding to electrical wiring.

Excellent expertise has also been extracted from the Pori-based Siru Innovations, which has provided Risutec with assistance in the development of touchscreen-based interaction between the system and users.
– They are experts in the design of software and interfaces, which conveniently adds to my own skills.

Customised solutions

Vanilla solutions – one model that fits each client – do not exist in this business. Each device is customised as per its destination country, the country's practices, circumstances and the seedlings to be planted.
– Brazil, China, South Africa and Australia, Aikala lists the current year's planned destinations of review and sales negotiations.

In Latin America alone, approximately 300 planting devices are sold every year, so travelling may well create expansions – not only Aikala's own horizons but also in the company's order book and recruiting plans.

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