Successful collaboration creates competitive waterjet cutting at Outokumpu PSC Nordic

Great expertise and long experience, the right machine quality, proximity, speed and flexibility – these are the characteristics that form the basis for a long and successful collaboration between the steel group Outokumpu and Kimtech. Right from the start, with joint development work in the early days of waterjet cutting, Outokumpu has built up a waterjet-cutting plant in Degerfors that handles larger dimensions than most providers on the Swedish market.

The Outokumpu group has 9,000 professionals in over 30 countries, and is a world leader in the field of stainless steel, which is customised in the form required. The designs involve everything from society’s basic structure and well-known landmarks through to products for the home and for industry.

Joint development laid the foundation

Outokumpu PSC Nordic in Degerfors, Värmland offers waterjet cutting as a sought-after cutting method. Behind the equipment is a close collaboration with Kimtech that has been going on for several decades.

“Going back to the beginning, we have the founder Sven Kimblad to thank for that. He’s an entrepreneur down to his fingertips,” says Mladen Perkovic, who has worked with the company for a long time – most recently as a production manager and previously as a site manager.

When Outokumpu PSC Nordic decided to invest in waterjet cutting in the early 1990s they sought a suitable equipment supplier, and hit on Kimtech.

“Their machines were not fully developed at the time, and Kimtech really took advantage of the opportunity to do a lot of development work, involving fine-tuning here with us – a collaboration that resulted in our sticking with them as a supplier and now having four machines,” says Mladen Perkovic.

Values the high level of service

During the long business relationship, Kimtech has designed and built up a set of machines that gives Outokumpu the right quality at the right price. The geographical proximity between the parties is also very important.

“Kimtech is at most three hours away, and we communicate with ease in the same language. There are rarely any problems with the machines, but when something happens they are incredibly helpful and act very quickly. If we had a supplier outside Sweden the travel time in the event of any problems would be much longer, and then there’s always a risk of language-related confusion,” says Mladen Perkovic.

He emphasises that Outokumpu really values the high level of service that is combined with outstanding technical expertise and great willingness to create solutions to the customer’s challenges.

Committed problem-solving that impresses

There have been times when Kimtech’s listening attitude has been impressive. Like when the latest machine grew by five metres during manufacture. Outokumpu had ordered a waterjet-cutting machine eight metres long, and Kimtech had started the construction process.

“Right then we got a big order for an existing customer. We realised we would not be able to deliver both that order and the backlog of orders unless we could extend the new waterjet-cutting machine that was in production. We didn’t really think it was possible,” says Mladen Perkovic.
Outokumpu nevertheless contacted Kimtech, explained the problem and said it could be resolved if the length of the machine was changed to thirteen metres.

“And Kimtech did resolve it!” Parts that had already been delivered were returned, and new ones were ordered. This is a clear example of their commitment, and also shows the advantage of being a smaller player that is able to be flexible if the will is there. Things never get stuck with Kimtech, and they see the value in the extra effort both for us as a customer and for themselves.

Successful meeting that led to success

Outokumpu currently has four waterjet-cutting machines in Degerfors, the smallest measuring 6×2.5 metres and the longest 13×5.5 metres.

“The Swedish waterjet-cutting market is pretty tough. We’ve chosen to create the niche of being able to accept sheets in bigger formats than our competitors, and this is a recipe for success that has proven effective. Our water-cutting machines also have up to four jets, or cutting nozzles, which means clear productivity gains when we receive orders for which we can run duplicates,” says Mladen Perkovic.

With a glance in the rear-view mirror, Outokumpu PSC Nordic can state that the choice of Kimtech was a success story for both parties.

“All the testing and research carried out initially has been of benefit to us, as well as to Kimtech’s development work. The collaboration will definitely continue to be as good in the future as it’s been in the past. Sven Kimblad has created a stable organisation that benefits from the requisite expertise to carry the company forward in his spirit,” says Mladen Perkovic.