Major investments at the Suolahti factory

Production facilities to grow from 4 to 6 hectares

In recent years, a new logistics centre and paint shop have been completed at the Suolahti factory. Since then, the pace of investments has only accelerated. We are currently expanding the transmission plant, which will start manufacturing CVT transmissions for Q and S Series tractors, while production of Powershift transmissions will also be expanded.

Valtra’s tractor factory moved to its current location in Suolahti in the late 1960s, when the existing factory building was renovated to suit tractor assembly. The current construction projects are the biggest since then.

“Over the course of five years, the size of our production facilities will grow from four to six hectares, in other words, expand by 1.5 times. In addition, other facilities are being built and renovated, such as the spare parts centre and engineering centre,” says project manager Mikko Torvelainen.

A new 3200-square-metre production space is being built at the northern end of the transmission plant, where the assembly and testing of CVT transmissions for Q and S Series tractors will begin. At the southern end, a 1300-metre factory extension is being built to house the machining of transmission comp onents. For example, seven FMS machining centres worth over one million euros each were ordered for the factory last year. In addition, 720 square metres of office space has already been completed on the east side of the factory, plus 300 square metres of social facilities on the west side. In total, around a hectare of new space is being built the transmission plant alone.

“The buildings will be ready in early autumn 2024, and production will start in early 2025. During the construction period, we have had temperatures down to minus –35 degrees Celsius, but we managed to finish the roof and walls before winter. The roof was also constructed with a hood in the Nordic way, so we had weather protection on top of the building. This has allowed us to stay on schedule regardless of the circumstances,” says Torvelainen.

“Construction work has proceeded on schedule, despite temperatures of down to minus –35 degrees Celsius this winter.”

The transmission plant will manufacture transmissions and their components not only for the needs of the adjacent assembly plant but also for other AGCO factories. For example, Powershift transmissions are already being made for factories in Brazil, and parts for IDEAL combine harvesters are being machined. With the expansion of the transmission plant, approximately 200 new employees will be hired at the factory, some of whom are already in training.

The number of construction workers at the transmission plant has averaged around 20, but the number has varied a lot according to the construction phase.

More efficient and versatile testing facilities

An additional 850 square metres of offices and a new validation laboratory are being built at the engi-neering centre. In the old cold laboratory, tractors could be tested in cold or hot conditions, but the heat produced by efficient modern tractors tended to heat up the laboratory too much during long test drives.

In the new laboratory, the temperature can be adjusted to very hot or cold so that the temperature remains constant, even when big tractors are being tested. In the new laboratory, air humidity and wind can also be adjusted. In addition, the laboratory can test individual components, such as transmissions, engines and cabs.

Paint shop completed on schedule

The new 2000-square-metre paint shop was completed on schedule and commissioned right after the summer holidays in 2023.

In the future, the new paint shop will enable an 8-minute phase time in assembly and annual production of more than 12,000 tractors in one shift. The dismantling of the old paint shop freed up a lot of space in the middle of the assembly line, of which only a small part has been put into use. With new products and increasing capacity, new assembly steps can be introduced in stages.

The new paint shop also makes it possible to manufacture even larger tractors. For example, a Q Series with a front linkage or a new S Series even without a front linkage would be too big for the old paint shop.

“Suolahti is not only an important tractor factory, but also a component factory where we will introduce production of AGCO stepless transmissions.”

Tim Millwood, SVP, Chief Supply Chain Officer, AGCO

Logistics centre in full swing

Completed in January 2021, the logistics centre has proven to be functional and is an important part of everyday operations at the assembly plant in particular. The parts needed for tractor manufacturing arrive at the logistics centre by truck and are then unloaded, stored and distributed to the assembly line as needed. On the assembly line, the exact parts that will be installed on the tractor in question in that work phase, according to the customer’s wishes, are delivered to the employee on a tray.

Around 1000 pallets arrive at the logistics centre every day. The shelves in the logistics centre are 11 metres high, and the volume of the building is 100,000 cubic metres. Altogether, there are approximately 10,000 individual parts.

Many smaller improvements

The transmission plant, paint shop, logistics centre and product development laboratory are only part of the changes taking place at the Suolahti factory. In addition, many of the facilities have been renovated, including the spare parts centre, the Unlimited Studio and the Atrium visitor centre. The remanufacturing of gearboxes outside the Suolahti factory area has also been expanded, and the Smart AG team developing new innovations has moved to new premises in Jyväskylä – in fact, on the same factory premises where the production of Valmet tractors began in 1951.

In total, approximately 1300 employees work at the Suolahti factory. AGCO Power’s engine plant in Linnavuori is also an almost equally large employer. From AGCO’s point of view, Finland is indeed the second largest country in terms of the number of employees.


Text Tommi Pitenius Photo Valtra archive