Finnish bike manufacturer Pole Bicycles has just opened their brand new production facility. In times like these that is not an easy thing to pull off. Shortages, hurdles and challenges were conquered in order to get it up and running. Read their story below:
“It sure wasn’t easy, delays, shortages, and price increases have not helped either. Creating something new from scratch needs sisu. Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness. And during these times when everything is more expensive, can take longer, and even run out completely, sisu is what we need.
To put delays in perspective, our EVOLINK purchase order was made in Autumn 2020. All frame materials were ready but we encountered problems with quality, small details, and overall difficulties with high demand pushbacks. We had to work remotely with our agent and finally, in July 2022 we received stock of EVOLINK’s. To be honest, if we did not have our CNC factory in Finland, we would not be here anymore. The pandemic wasn’t our only challenge. In 2019 we had quality issues with almost all our products and our company had to change management. With new management, we decided to fix everything, reconnect with our customers, and change our course to increase production in Finland.
We set goals so we could make the CNC process more efficient and of better quality. We had to cut down on materials, manual labor, and production steps. The goal was simply to make bigger quantities with the same amount of resources. We introduced new surface treatment and passivation processes, and a new way of bonding. Stamina and Voima have little in common if we look under the hood. We made patents, and have several patents pending for our production methods.
Voima itself went through a long product development process. We made more iterations than with previous products. We put significant effort into details like protective tapes, battery mounts, motor mounting, motor cooling, motor maintenance, seat post fixing, and cable routing. We set a goal to not need a single washer on our bike that could go missing and we achieved that. We even integrated the swingarm axles into the swingarms from one piece.
The swingarm isn’t exactly conventional and has made people either love or hate the bike shape. In real life, the bike looks stunning and people who see it in the flesh have realised how special Voima is.
STARTING A NEW PRODUCTION LINE IS A SURPRISINGLY TOUGH JOB
Our Voima presale in 2021 was a huge success for a small company like Pole. We sold more Voima’s in one month than Staminas in a whole year. We soon realised that our production capacity was fully sold out with Voima orders. We had to stop selling, and producing Stamina. We also made a decision that we need more production capacity to fulfill the demand. After the EFBE test was passed in December our ramp-up project started.
Setting up a new production line with a limited amount of machines means that we need to ramp up in increments. Deciding what the batch size for every part needs a lot of planning and following up so that everyone is informed of what is happening next. The most deceiving part of the process is that getting used to something is what blinds us in all aspects. We get used to fast achievements or real disappointments, and these start to drive things the wrong way if the overall vision is not clear.
We continued our ramp-up process with increasing numbers and in April we had consumed our inventory of components and had produced half of the presold bikes. Whilst we waited for the new stock to arrive, we continued our ramp-up project and sold more Voima’s.
WE ARE MAKING MORE BIKES, AND QUICKER THAN BEFORE
Now we have reached our cap, and we are proudly making 80 Voima framesets a month. To put that in perspective; we are now producing more CNC manufactured bikes in two months than we did in one year. The next project is to refine our processes, and our goal is to make 100 per month. Our target is to clear all current Voima orders by the end of August, which we will do. Now our lead time is 30 days instead of six months or more.
Not only do these process improvements mean we can manufacture more bikes every month, but it also translates to new product pricing options. To meet the production deadlines, we are now selling production capacity monthly.
To celebrate this milestone, we are releasing two brand new editions to our E-bike range. We are giving our customers an option to fully customise their Voima also.”
For more information check out http://www.polebicycles.com