Pintos, one of Finland’s leading suppliers of concrete construction products, manufactures reinforcement mesh, lifting hooks, concrete casting accessories and fasteners – practically everything but the concrete itself – at its production plants in Eura and Lappi. In 2021, the company launched a simulation project with Pinja to provide research and decision support for a planned investment in machinery. Since then, cooperation has expanded to include lead times through value-stream mapping and developing daily management. The main driver behind the partnership is the effective use of lean thinking.

The cooperation in brief

Pintos and Pinja implement a simulation project

In 2021, Pintos and Pinja carried out a simulation project to provide verified information for the machinery procurement decision planned by Pintos. The project provided Pintos with the validation it needed to support its vision and to optimize the details of the investment decision. 

Value-stream mapping consists of observation, analysis, and improvement actions

After the simulation project, the partnership extended to value-stream mapping. Based on findings and analysis, improvement actions were listed and piloted, and finally put into practice. The result was a significant reduction in production line changeover times.

A visual model to support daily operations

Supporting daily management has also been an important part of Pintos’ production development. Pintos and Pinja took a fresh look at the daily management and developed a visual model to support the work. Following these improvements, daily work now has a clear structure and designated responsibilities, and communication flows efficiently between staff members.

Working with Pinja has made our work visible and our everyday lives easier. An external partner has a different way of looking at things, and we have had valuable brainstorming sessions. Pinja brings theory and practice together very well.

Tommi Kuusisto, Manufacturing Manager, Pintos Oy

Simulation gives certainty to investment decisions

Pintos, specializing in the manufacture of concrete construction products, has seen the Finnish construction industry evolve over its history from the reconstruction of the 1950s to the urbanization of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the rise of today’s expanding growth centers. The company has kept pace with change by continuously developing its operations.

The business, which started with fasteners, has expanded significantly over time, and today the company serves its customers with a wide range of products. Pintos’ Eura factory is mainly focused on large series production, while the Lappi plant produces more specialized and customized products.

The demand for building materials is currently huge, and Pintos has confidence in the future. Therefore, the company recently decided to invest in machinery, supported by the results of a simulation project with Pinja and led by Lean Consultant Teemu Rovio.

– The simulation confirmed our vision and gut feeling about where and to what extent we should invest. It is important for us that our production capacity is right, and that it is located at the right place, says Jyri Tuominen, Manufacturing Manager of Pintos’ Lappi production plant.

There was a real need for the data-driven validation that simulation brings, as Pintos’ production has several variables. One important aspect is the division of labor between the production plants in Eura and Lappi, and thus the optimization of transports. In addition to all its other production, Pintos also sells 45 million individual concrete casting products each year, so logistics really do matter.

– We found the simulation process relatively easy, although there were a few tweaks along the way. I think we had about five joint meetings. The project made use of the rich data in our ERP system, so we carried out the simulation with a historical perspective, Tuominen states.

Value-stream mapping makes work visible, and enables development

Another important part of the partnership between Pintos and Pinja is the observational value-stream mapping. The survey examined how product changeovers are carried out in practice in Pintos’ production and what individual steps they involve. After the observation, an assessment was made to evaluate which steps provided real benefits, which were so-called ancillary tasks, and which could be optimized. From Pinja’s side, the project was led by Leading Consultant Leo Riihiaho, who facilitated the work of the team at various stages.

The most challenging product changeover was chosen to be studied, moving from a very thin wire to the thickest one. After observation, analysis and identification of development actions, the improved product changeover was piloted two weeks later. A product changeover that previously caused a three-hour production stoppage was now completed in 70 minutes.

– The day of observation was intense but eye-opening. It was during this time that we really understood how many small steps are involved in a product changeover in practice. I also liked the way Pinja’s people treated our staff with respect and said we were the best experts in our field. Pinja brought their own expertise and a fresh set of eyes to the development process. An outsider can look at production differently, says Tommi Kuusisto, Manufacturing Manager at Pintos’ Eura production plant.

The improvements agreed for implementation followed the principles of lean thinking, which aim to eliminate unnecessary steps, ensure the right tools and that people are available at the right time, and minimize the number of steps. In addition to comprehensive foresight, it is important that responsibility for the different phases of the work is clearly assigned to designated persons, and that safety and ergonomics are built into all phases of the work.

– The theory of lean thinking was useful and was also absorbed by our production staff. It altered our way of thinking and made us ask the question “why?” more often. The improvements we have made over time make our everyday lives easier, and they have resulted in new toolsets as well, says Kuusisto.

A visual model to facilitate daily management

After the value-stream mapping, Pintos and Pinja have continued to work together on daily management practices. The aim has been to give production staff tangible support in implementing proven models. 

During the project, which focused on a selected production line, we worked together to learn how to build good daily management and introduce metrics to support daily activities, including safety metrics. The project combined materials and practices previously produced at Pintos, allocated clear responsibilities, and made practical work visible through documentation and reporting.

A visual model is now in place to ensure a good flow of information between shifts, and to deal with issues that require attention. The development of daily operations is perceived by Pintos’ staff as an important and successful task, and a new way of thinking has also clearly entered the mindset of employees. The company wants to extend the good practices to other production lines in both Eura and Lappi in the future.

– Working with Pinja has made our work visible and our everyday lives easier. An external partner has a different way of looking at things, and we have had valuable brainstorming sessions. Pinja brings theory and practice together very well, Kuusisto sums up.

Pinto in a nutshell

+60 years experience in product manufacturing in the concrete industry

45 million concrete casting materials sold per year

69 000 Volkswagen Beetles’ weight worth of finished steel products per year

more than 60 % reduction of changeover times through value-stream mapping

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