Investment in growth means creating more capacity and flexibility in factories. But it also means helping people grow, expanding skill sets and ensuring well-being.
In July 2021, Ensto sold its Ensto Building Systems business to Legrand, the global specialist in digital building infrastructures. With that transaction finalized, Ensto is now turning its attention to investment in the growth of its electricity distribution business.
Ensto plans to double its turnover by 2025. Some of that growth will come from acquisitions, but much of it will be organic, and Ensto has already made investments to reach that target.
There are preconditions for organic growth, however, says Niko Helander, Senior Vice President, Ensto Operations. "If you raise capacity, you raise flexibility. Only then can you grow."
And growth can only come so fast, so achieving that capacity must be carefully planned. "It's not like you buy a machine, put it on the floor, and get instant results," cautions Helander. "You've got to install it, learn to use it, and teach others to use it. It might sound like something simple, but it's not."
Ensto has allotted six million euros per year for investment in operations over the next five years. "Because this is the speed and investment pace we need and can handle," says Helander.
Significant changes are being seen at the plant in Keila, Estonia, where the business is expected to double over the next two years. "We had 110 people in Keila after splitting the factory into two in the spring," says Helander. "Today we have 160 people and we need 200 by the end of the year."
Driving the Keila growth is the cold shrink business. "We've got a good product that our competitors don't have," he says. "We have manufacturing knowhow that others don’t, and we're diversifying when it comes to the type of projects we’re after."
Ensto has already invested two million euros in Keila with the purchase of three new machines and a quality measuring station. The new machines will arrive in the spring, and Helander is planning to present an additional investment proposal to the board next January.
The Porvoo, Finland plant is also seeing investment. The factory has automated the assembly of SLIW connectors, the two-component injection molded connectors for low-voltage networks. The plant is currently producing 1.8 million connectors per year with a capacity of 2.5 million.
"One machine does the work of 15 people, and we need to automate even more because we are growing,” says Helander. “We’re manufacturing our four top-selling connectors in Porvoo, and in St. Petersburg and Keila they are still doing manual assembly of lower volume SLIW connectors.”
In the beginning of October 2021, the Porvoo plant began operating 24/7 in order to meet the growth in SLIW orders from markets, especially Russia. "Automation is the future," he says. "It's what makes us efficient and able to maintain good quality at a fair price and earn a fair profit."
Product development is also almost doubling its laboratory testing capabilities in Porvoo, serving every Ensto market. This is also crucial element in our growth path.
India's Ensto factory is not only benefiting from growth in India, but will also begin to play a role in Ensto operations worldwide. "We've rented new premises where the landlord has built a 4,000-square-meter factory for our needs," says Helander. "We'll be moving some production from Europe to India, making products which will be sold in all Ensto countries."
The investment in India represents a major milestone, and factory personnel are taking real pride in producing for the rest of the world. "Our customers know that whatever carries the Ensto name is good quality," says Helander.
Investment in machines and factory space is only one part of growth, says Helander, and learning to work in new ways is equally as important. "We're learning to work in 24/5 and 24/7 modes, which we have to do to gain capacity. It's a change of culture, especially if factory personnel aren't familiar with it."
"To change the way we work requires a lot of discussion," he says. "Ten years ago the impression was that 24/5 would be impossible in Keila. And now that factory will soon move to 24/7. France will add more shifts, as well. We have increased capacity and flexibility in our factories in France during the year, and we need to continue down this path.”
Expansion from investment means that Ensto employees will have the opportunity to grow along with the company. "Everybody wants to improve their skill set,” Helander says. "It's one of the reasons Ensto is the leading expert for DSOs. This is why we'll continue to invest in our people and to make safety and health a top priority. Because you just can’t have growth without people."