in Vol. 9 - January Issue - Year 2008
Expert Technology And Know-how In Residual Stress Analysis And Materials Testing
Interview with Juha Siiriäinen, Manager Asia Markets at Stresstech Group.
(?) MFN: It is amazing that in such a remote country as Finland there exists a high technology company, exporting products worldwide.
(!) J. S.: Indeed, our domestic markets are marginal; we have only a few Finnish customers, which are top universities and globally known companies such as Moventas. This kind of cooperation with the scientists and industry helps us to be informed of the advances in science and thus to be in the front line and to answer to our customers needs better.
As a country in the far North, Finland has always been and is today more and more dependent on foreign trade. It imports energy, food, vehicles etc. and has traditionally exported mainly products of its natural resources such as wood, pulp and paper. During the post-war decades the variety of exported goods has, however, rapidly changed from less processed products to high value added products. Finnish companies have been very successful with certain innovations such as polar ice breakers, luxurious cruising ships to the Caribbean Sea, mobile phones, and – residual stress and Barkhausen Noise analyzers.
We Finns get along very well with different cultures. We are not the best in small talk, but once we say something we really mean it. I have a feeling that we as a nation are trusted by people all around the world.
(?) MFN: Does your company’s location bring any benefits or drawbacks to your business?
(!) J. S.: Actually, our group consists of three companies, Stresstech GmbH in Germany and American Stress Technology, Inc. in USA, which are both owned by Stresstech Oy Finland. With these offices and, not forgetting our distributor network, we are close to our main marketing areas and customers, and can serve and support our customers more locally and often with their own language.
Our exotic location from many customers’ point of view attracts them. Quite often before shipping a bigger inspection system, a pre-acceptance by the customer is required, and customers want to travel to us to get the training. I would say that without any exception all customers have been fascinated about our clean nature, admiring long clear summer nights, and surviving extreme coldness in winter. We are happy to meet the customers personally, and encourage our customers to get the training at our facilities.
(?) MFN: What is your main marketing area?
(!) J. S.: We focus on three areas, Europe, North America and Asia.
(?) MFN: What are your products?
(!) J. S.: We manufacture instruments and provide services for measuring stress and stress related surface properties. If I just simply say that we make stress analyzers, it would be too limiting. We are not only a manufacturer but also an expert organization with high educated and experienced staff. Our products are based on X-ray diffraction, Barkhausen noise and hole drilling technologies. We have a certain selection of standard products, but quite often we modify and create new applications according to customers’ individual needs.
(?) MFN: That was a broad and general answer, could you specify in more detail. For example, what is Barkhausen noise?
(!) J. S.: With pleasure. Barkhausen noise is a micro magnetic measurement method, initially invented 90 years ago by professor Barkhausen. For decades it was a physical phenomenon without any practical use, until Finnish scientists discovered that Barkhausen noise can be used for residual stress measurements. These scientists, a married couple, are the founders of our company. So, our company is a pioneer with this technology and its applications for the industry. Barkhausen noise instruments are used for analyzing and characterizing surface properties like stress, hardness and microstructure after different manufacturing processes. Typical monitored processes are heat treatment, grinding, shot peening etc. of gears, car engine components, bearings, and a wide variety of other components. The Barkhausen noise inspection systems are from simple handheld testing systems up to fully automatic in-line systems.
A standard X-ray stress analyzer is a straight forward product, which often fulfills customer’s needs. However, in many cases there is a need to modify the analyzer or the software, or need to make some accessories, which enable easier operation with samples with difficult geometry and bigger size.
(?) MFN: And who are your customers?
(!) J. S.: The biggest customer segment is part manufacturers for automotive industry. Not just any parts, but those parts which must carry heavy loads and tolerate high contact pressures. Within recent years the wind turbine transmission industry has became an important customer, and more generally manufacturers of power transmission gears. Also, the aviation industry is one major customer segment.
(?) MFN: How about research and educational organizations?
(!) J. S.: We are all the time in close contact with several universities of technology, as well as with other research organizations. We participate in research projects as a member of the project, not only as a supplier. Traditionally we have also had foreign students every summer doing their internship studies.
(?) MFN: You mentioned the automotive and aviation industry as your customers. There is an ever increasing concern about global warming and the need to cut CO2 and other green house gas emissions. Is this a threat to your business?
(!) J. S.: No, I wouldn’t say so, actually the opposite. Safety, reliability, energy efficiency, ease of manufacture, light weight, and high performance are all attributes that must be taken into account in the design of machines and components. In many cases these attributes are, however, difficult to achieve simultaneously. Not only the energy efficiency of the products, but also the efficiency of the manufacturing processes are also needed. One main application of our instruments is to monitor the quality of grinding and hard turning. Faulty process parameters will lead to defective parts, and on the other hand, too frequent process adjustments mean extra costs.
We’d like to thank Juha Siiriäinen for this Interview.