Last Wednesday Meyer Turku, fully owned by German shipbuilder Meyer Werft, announced another step in its series of large investments to support the new rise of the Turku shipyard. Following the €35-million bridge crane investment announced in February, the company is now going to invest a further €17 million in its subsidiary, the Piikkiö Works cabin factory.
The investment includes a new assembly factory equipped with a state-of-the-art, fully automated conveyor belt line. The old panel production hall will be renovated and expanded in order for it to be used as a warehouse for the completed cabin modules. In addition, the current Piikkiö Works office will be moved to a newly renovated office facility.
The Piikkiö Works cabin factory will be developed in close cooperation with its sister company EMS PreCab GmbH, a cabin manufacturer located in Papenburg, Germany. Active sharing of ideas between the two factories ensures the strong development of cabin production in both.
The work will begin this spring, when the old offices are demolished to clear the way for the new production facility. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.
Rebuilding on Know-How
According to Meyer Turku, building today’s large cruise ships with 5,000 or more beds would not be possible without industrially prefabricated cabins, which offer a combination of high quality, a reasonable price tag, and delivery speeds enabling shipyards to build cruise ships faster than ever before.
“The cabins’ industrial quality is an important advantage for us,” Meyer Turku CEO Dr Jan Meyer pointed out at the press conference held in Piikkiö. “Each cabin is a complete, tested product. Once the cabins leave the factory, they are transported to the shipyard, where they are lifted on board and slid into place. A couple of quick steps later they are ready to be used. It is a very efficient process.”
Dr Meyer went on to tell us that cruise ship cabins are becoming more and more sophisticated – after all, it is a very important aspect of a passenger’s cruise. That is one reason why Meyer Turku wants to make sure their cabins remain comprehensively state-of-the-art, and why the decision to invest in the cabin factory was made.
Located just a stone’s throw from the Turku shipyard on the southwest coast of Finland, the 30-year-old Piikkiö Works is the world’s oldest manufacturer of prefabricated cabins. After 140,000 successfully delivered prefabricated cabins, however, the production facilities in Piikkiö are in urgent need of renovation. That is why Meyer Turku has decided the time is ripe for a leap forward towards increased productivity and better quality.
“We are sort of living in a house where the mortgage has already been paid, but where new issues have risen. Now the house has started to fall apart, and we are going to need to rebuild it,” Dr Meyer said.
“This is a burden, for sure, but also a great opportunity for us to design and create our own future. Our team at Piikkiö is working hard to realize the full benefits from these investments and again set a new standard for the most advanced cabin production in the world.”
Piikkiö Works CEO Ari Kumpulainen (on the right, talking with Meyer Turku CEO Jan Meyer) is pleased that his company has a stable owner with plenty of faith in the future. “This investment proves that our cabin factory is considered an integral part of Meyer Turku’s future as well,” he said.
Dark Clouds and a Window of Opportunity
According to Piikkiö Works CEO Ari Kumpulainen, the production volumes of the factory are expected to rise from the current 2,500 to as many as 4,000 cabins per year. That said, jobs are not expected to be at peril owing to automation and increased efficiency. On the contrary, there should be plenty of work to do in the future as well.
The increase in production volumes is due to Meyer Turku’s order book, which at the moment is particularly strong. As many as seven cruise ships are to be delivered in the years to come, and the shipyard is set to double its production by 2020.
“Our strong order book is both an enabler and a prerequisite for such large investments,” Dr Meyer pointed out. “Now we are going to compensate for the new ‘mortgage’ by increasing our productivity.”
In spite of the promising order book, the people at Meyer Turku are not planning to start resting on their laurels anytime soon. Always a realist, Dr Meyer admitted to us that he sees dark clouds constantly looming over the horizon. One factor bringing forth future challenges is the low price of oil.
“Other sectors of shipbuilding, especially the offshore industry, have now in many countries pretty much grinded to a halt,” he said. “That’s why the shipbuilding industries in countries such as Norway, China, and South Korea are going to be looking for other ways of doing business.”
“There will be more and more competition in the cruise ship industry as well. That said, we know for sure that dark clouds are heading our way. Now we have the opportunity to prepare for that, and we are going to seize it.”
Text and images by Industrial PRIME
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