The glass brothers scaling the Finnish industry rely on LiSEC solutions - Skaala & LiSEC, a unique success story

Date: 26 June 2016
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  • LiSEC
Hannu and Markku Hautanen, owners of Skaala, in front of a new LiSEC IG line being installed
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LiSEC
Skaala was founded in 1956 as a one-man company. The father of the two current owners, Hannu and Markku Hautanen, was a carpenter and already in those days, he processed glass while repairing doors and windows.

Today, Skaala is Finland’s number one window and door producer. In the year 2015 over 500 employees generated a turnover of 95 Mio Euro (Budget 2016: 110 Mio Euro) at six production sites, one of which is located in Russia. The domestic market is the largest one, with UK, Sweden and Russia being the three major export markets (nearly 20% of turnover).

Skaala’s history and growth pace are impressive. Markku Hautanen: “We started our business with pre-owned LiSEC machinery and over the years have become a renowned company in the glass business, even glass producers develop glass types with us.” Skaala’s positioning today is both clear and unique: specialized in production, sales and marketing of complete service and solutions for windows, doors, and façade glazing windows.”

One thing, though, has not changed since its foundation: only if there is a real order from a customer, machines are switched on – no production on stock, no flooding the market in spring, no seasonal reactions. Renovations are the most important business for Skaala – sixty percent of the orders also include installation.


New production hall at Skaala. The company increases production capacity to about 12,000 IG units per week.

 

Phases of growth – with LiSEC

In 1989 the managers bought a second hand IG-line. A few years later they bought their first LiSEC second hand IG line from an Austrian company. But still they had to buy many special IG products from other companies (coated sheets etc.) and were depending on other suppliers.

1997 they decided to invest and do it in a proper way: their set target was the efficient integration of their glass factory into the windows factory – through effective glass handling. They invested in a complete system from LiSEC in two phases, 1999 and 2000.

They did so because they knew that many new technologies were coming onto the market (new and special glass types to be processed) and order intake would be booming. A second LiSEC IG line was bought in 2004 from a German company.

In the year 2008, a new regulation in Finland regarding energy efficiency was released to become active in 2010. Those were the days when Skaala came up with their two-plus-two window concept called Skaala Alfa – which meant a boom for the production.

Since then, energy efficiency has been the major driver in the glass industry and also the main marketing message from Skaala. Skaala has, by the way, never decided to only improve existing products, they have consequently developed new ones, which has been an absolute must in order to be able to increase the Finnish market share (now about 25%).

2010-2011 the Hautanen brothers saw a large increase in requests for balcony glazing – in 2013 they acquired a company that was specialized in this field. Also this time: they opted to drain knowledge into the company instead of depending on suppliers.


Between March and May over 70 trucks transported the new LiSEC equipment to Skaala in Finland

 

Largest investment program in history

2015 / 2016 Skaala made the largest investment in its history. LiSEC supplied the Finnish market leader with cutting and IG lines and also a LiSEC AEROFLAT tempering furnace. Overall Skaala invested nearly 10 Mio Euro in machinery. The core is highly automated glass processing technology including handling and logistics, whereby the whole production process will be renewed.

The necessary building extensions have been made – in total 9,000 m2. Overall, Skaala’s head count is estimated to raise from 550 to 700, mainly in Finland. Benefits from this investment will be seen in Skaala products in many ways. First of all it enables the development of even more energy efficient products. In Finland the standardized U-value is 1.0 (W/m2K).

Skaala’s most energy efficient windows are already today at values of 0.50 – 0.60. With the new system it is possible to even halve those values. “With this investment”, Markku Hautanen states, “Skaala gears for the future.” The new lines will be up and running in August 2016, when Skaala celebrates its sixtieth anniversary.

“We are aware of the fact that LiSEC installed a tempering furnace in the home of a major Finnish supplier – but in the end, we take decisions based on economical and technical facts, also in this case”. Markku Hautanen


Under construction: LiSEC cutting lines being installed at Skaala

 

New at Skaala: Alfa cLean

This pioneer solution enables high-quality indoor air for everyone, regardless of the housing type. Homes will be energy efficient with clean, fresh air and easily controlled ventilation. During recent years, companies have introduced energy-efficient solutions mainly aimed for new houses and buildings.

Meanwhile, the problems with energy efficiency and indoor air in the existing dwelling stock have been left unresolved, even though they are widely recognized. Alfa cLean by Skaala aims at renovation sites: Skaala Alfa cLean is air ventilation and heat recovery integrated inside a low-energy window.

The solution does not lessen the size of the glazing, nor does it change the appearance of the building. It is easy to install, it works independently and does not need expensive and space consuming ventilation piping. The intelligent and smart system takes care of the ventilation and the indoor air quality independently. Problems caused by moisture and temperature changes are eliminated by controlled removal of condense and automatic defrost.


Alfa cLean by Skaala: air ventilation and heat recovery integrated inside a low-energy window.

 

LiSEC – the reasons why

“Why should we – we do not even think about it, the system runs like a clockwork” is the laconic answer to the question if the more than sixteen year old LiSEC IG line will be replaced. And in this answer lies the core of the cooperation between the two market leaders: reliability.

Hannu Hautanen: “LiSEC has been a reliable partner over many years – in every situation Skaala has been in so far we received a solution to our problem and every step in the cooperation was professional, from Sales, over Technical Support to Service”. 

“Another big asset is the product range LiSEC offers”, adds Markku. “When we made our first major investment, LiSEC was the only company offering the machinery we needed from a single source: cutting lines, IG line and harp racks. Add to this the fact that they also offer great software platforms, they really are unique in the market”.

Hannu: “Another major advantage is the fact that replacing machines in an existing line is very easy, we have already done that a few times – with other suppliers this is far more of a challenge.” And why the AEROFLAT from LiSEC as the tempering solution?

Markku: “There are a few reasons for that. LiSEC has in-depth experience in tempering, the produced quality is outstanding, operation is easy and energy consumption is much lower than with other solutions (up to 40%). And again: we like to buy solutions from one single source… “

 

Fact box: Skaala in figures

  • Number of employees:      over 500
  • Turnover:                              95 Mio Euro in 2015
  • Number of sites:                 6
  • Export Rate:                         20%
  • Investment 2016:               14 Mio Euro

 

Fact box: installed LiSEC machine base @Skaala

Already installed: portal crane, two cutting lines, one sorting system (harp cars), two IG lines.

Invest 2015 / 2016: portal crane system, two cutting lines (one float and low-e, one PVB), automatic break out system, glass seaming line for all cut sheets, processing line, three sorting buffers, AEROFLAT tempering furnace, automatic SuperSpacer IG line (linked to buffer), modified existing IG line also directy linked to a buffer system.

Production capacity (existing and new system): about 12,000 IG units per week, depending on the share of triple and quadruple units.

With the new investment any type of IG unit and any type of single glass sheet can be processed. The entire system is steered and monitored by a brand new LiSEC ERP and production planning system.

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