Finnish manufacturer of pipes for shipbuilding and industry Ardor started up a new business in 2020. It now makes ventilation ducts made of thick plate. With the competitive edge created by Universal Robots’ (UR) cobots, Ardor wants to bring the production of thick-plate ducts back to the Nordic countries from Poland and the Baltic countries. Subcontractors of the shipbuilding industry in the Nordic countries have been losing orders to low-cost countries like Poland and the Baltic countries. This problem has also affected Ardor, which has two plants in the Turku region at Naantali and Raisio.
The company's roots are as a manufacturer of pipes for ocean cruise liners and it is still strong in this. The company is currently making approximately 400 tonnes of prefabricated pipes for Carnival Cruise Lines’ latest cruise ship, Celebration.
The business transformation
Over time, the client base has expanded to industrial pipes and equipment installations. The company has delivered pipes to, for example, Fortum and Gasum heating plants. Work has traditionally been manual, both for the prefabrication and installation of the pipes.
According to traditional practice, design images serve only as indicative models. The pipes are made-to-measure at their site of installation. In this process too, a professional installation engineer does good work, even though it is not a very cost-effective process. A company operating on a Nordic cost level just cannot compete in terms of salaries. Means must be found elsewhere. As early as 2015, Ardor began to develop its competitiveness using automation and robotization.
"We noticed that the sector was not investing very much in making production smart," says CEO Jarno Soinila. "This presented an opportunity for us to be different.”