Electronics manufacturing is going strong in Oulu
“We invested a significant amount of money in our production facility in Haukipudas,” says Eeva-Liisa Kylmänen, Plant Manager at Sanmina’s Haukipudas site, pointing at a new production line in the plant. In addition to the production line, there is a new controlled environment area with low-particle conditions for optics assembly.
The electronics manufacturing industry took some hits during the early 2000s, and a lot of the companies in the region were sold. The Sanmina plant originally specialized in communications systems infrastructure, but now it has expanded capabilities for industrial, multimedia and medical manufacturing.
“We have a 20-year history in prototyping, so it’s nothing new to us, and today’s startups know it,” Kylmänen says, showing us the ŌURA ring she wears. The Oulu-based health wearable, hailed for its design and innovation, is manufactured almost entirely in Haukipudas. “Our ability to help companies in every stage of electronic device manufacturing is practically unique in Finland,” she says.
Startups in particular are one reason the industry has had a positive rebound. There is currently an abundance of young, aggressive companies entering the market with smart devices, and the localization of the whole value chain is quite amazing. And Sanmina is by no means the only operator in electronics production – other companies are experiencing healthy growth as well.
Cooperation is necessary
Another change in recent years is the importance of a global supply chain. “While it was almost the norm to take the production of some products overseas, it presented some problems the smaller companies just couldn’t tackle easily: language barriers, time zones, working cultures and ethical standards, all those put together. Now, it’s more feasible to produce in other regions if that’s your market; otherwise, the companies value the immediate feedback, familiar working culture and real-time communication that a regional production chain offers,” says Olli Lukkari, specialist for business environments at BusinessOulu.
He is also calling for more cooperative actions between start-ups, and to focus on the refined end of the industrial production processes. For the past two years, he has also been the project manager in an EU project called “New Wave of Electronics Production”, where they seek investment growth in regional production. “According to research, mere regional R&D investment isn’t enough to create results, but production of parts of the value chain must be included in the investment,” he says.
an enterprise owned by the City of Oulu, is responsible for implementing the city’s industry policies and providing companies with development services.
Olli Lukkari, Specialist, Business environments