Growing underground with Normet

Normet Oy is leading the market in the creation of underground engineering products and services.

Over the last 45 years, the company has prided itself on creating cost-effective equipment that can endure tough underground environments, as well as delivering high levels of health and safety for its customers. Normet also offers extensive support, maintenance advice, equipment and services to customers in a service called Life Time Care. As part of an expanding market, with new avenues of product and technique development constantly being discovered, expectations are on steady progress in the future.

Explaining the progress the company has made, Normet Group Oy president Jari Osmala states: “The main products are for underground tunnelling and mining works – for processes like concrete spraying, transportation, explosive charging, scaling, and man lifting equipment. Emphasis is placed on continued mechanising of these processes in an efficient and safe way. Our manufacturing site and HQ is in Finland; 400 km northeast of Helsinki in a place called Ilsalmi. The factory is being expanded as a solution to increased production volumes, and a new painting facility is also being created in an industrial production hall. This will increase our assembling operations. A modern painting facility is being joined with a high quality surface treatment process.”

Normet has long-term experience in working alongside customers who specialise in mining and underground construction. The company has worked with Pyhäsalmi mine in central Finland, which is the oldest operational base metal mine in Finland, as well as the deepest metal mine in Europe. Jari continues: “We want to be a close as possible to our customers, to understand what they need, how they do their work, and what improvements we can offer them in their working processes. We then turn these ideas into physical products and services. Of course, the company now has a lot of accumulated experience in this industry.”

At the end of the financial year in 2006, Normet announced a turnover of 57.6 million euros – an increase of 28.2 per cent from last year. There was a 24.9 per cent increase in orders received, and investment in new products and production processes boosted the company’s growth amid favourable demand. The majority of Normet’s sales are located in Europe, with 45 per cent of sales there, 18 per cent located in Australia and Asia, and 16 per cent located in the Commonwealth of Independent States. These sales have encouraged the company to develop subsidiaries in Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as representative offices in Australia and China.

On Normet’s expansion, Jari comments: “We have in place a big project to double our capacity. The Finnish workforce and staff are very committed to what they do, and they are very eager to make improvements all the time. The mining industry is expanding in Kazakhstan. We have some important customers there, so we have expanded our own company into offices in Kazakhstan to offer direct services like Life Time Care.”

Life Time Care (LTC) is a central service provided to Normet customers upon purchasing products. LTC offers customers maintenance, services, spare parts and other functions in close co-operation with Normet staff and technicians. Setting up the LTC service in developing markets such as Kazakhstan is central to the company’s expansion and product reputation. After selling products in Kazakhstan for over 20 years, Jari explains why creating a subsidiary was a logical step: “Our philosophy in regards to the aftermarket is to look after the customer for the entire lifetime of a machine after it is shipped, to get the best output from the equipment. This way, we can check that the machine is in constant good shape, as well as offering parts supply, and optimum upgrades. Regular services ensure that the equipment maintains performance.”

The company also holds a progressive philosophy towards the development of new products, as Jari expands: “We are developing new innovations all the time, and recent focus of our work has been on emulsion charging devices and other charging methods. We have come up with new solutions, which improve efficiency for our customers, as well as making everything safer – that’s our philosophy. Most of our resources are focused on developing concrete spraying equipment and charging equipment.”

This focus has produced the Spraymec 7110 WPC tunnel concrete sprayer, recently revealed in April 2007 at the Bauma exhibition in Munich. Jari comments: “The 7110 is a base product for underground tunnelling works and the wide working area combines with a compact size. This product is also used in mines. Everything is included, so workers can use it independently, and boom covers allow this product to be used in different tunnel applications. Our engineering philosophy is to use high quality components and good controls which results in quality spraying.” The company also understands the need for health and safety alongside efficiency in its products, and the 7110 carrier has a new wheel-steered rigid frame for heavy-duty underground use. Multi-disc brakes ensure reliability, and the accelerator dosing system, which monitors the concrete mix, is enclosed in a shock-resistant container.

This product innovation has put Normet at the forefront of underground construction technologies. Jari elaborates: “As society develops more interest in constructing underground, the volume of this construction generates business potential for our solutions. In developing countries, major projects are starting and underground construction is becoming mechanised. This mechanisation trend develops even more potential for us. Wet concrete spraying is overtaking dry concrete spraying, hence the need for the equipment we produce is increasing. We are focusing on underground mechanical solutions for the future.”

Jari explains the company’s dominance in the market: “Normet is the biggest supplier of underground construction and mining equipment worldwide. All the main European underground construction companies are our customers, as well as companies who have seen that the most important factor in equipment is not just the purchasing price but the efficiency and the cost per hour over its lifetime. We value customers who have the same philosophy as we do. The main goal is for continued growth, both in the market and in what we can offer in products and services. We are also planning on being closer to our customers, to give them what they need and find out what they need from us.”

Products: Underground construction and mining products and services
Sites: Ilsalmi, Finland
Employees: 273