customer experience

Text Sepi Roshan
Photos Tero Takalo-Eskola

Continuous investment in product development is essential in competitive industries. Mr Markus Eronen, Product Development Manager currently leads Sammet’s innovation programme. He discusses how the company’s tradition of innovation opens up opportunities to provide value and quality for customers.

Mr. Markus Eronen.

The crisp, blue sky in Jyväskylä (pronounced “u-vas-ku-la”), with only a smattering of white clouds, promises a perfect Finnish day. Mr Markus Eronen, Sammet’s Product Development Manager is excited. His newly established role reflects Sammet’s commitment to its customers and its own growth trajectory. Before working at Sammet, Eronen was a mechanical design engineer designing products for a variety of customers and working on numerous projects. Earlier in his career, Eronen was a production and process worker. Exposure to different manufacturing and production methods sparked Eronen’s interest in how products and processes could be improved. As the sun peaks out, so does Eronen’s enthusiastic smile. “My experience has helped me understand mechanical engineering in a comprehensive way”, he says.

“As emissions directives get tougher, we need to respond with new technology and meet the demands of customers and industry regulations.” –Mr. Markus Eronen

Experience with identifying meaningful improvements and product changes that bring tangible benefits, is imperative for ensuring Sammet consistently produces their leading-edge marine and industry dampers. Customer needs are changing and technology improvements means there are opportunities to meet that demand. For example, the megatrend in the marine industry is to minimise environmental impact. “As emissions directives get tougher, we need to respond with new technology and meet the demands of customers and industry regulations”, explains Eronen. Sammet’s competitive advantage partly stems from their ability to leverage a vast, global network and to apply the latest technological innovations to their products and services. This explains some of why Sammet is the market leader in marine dampers.

Constantly ahead of the curve

Market leaders like Sammet, need to constantly stay ahead of the curve. Fortunately, Eronen enjoys perfecting his technical and practical knowledge to keep Sammet on top. He is undertaking a Master’s Degree in Technology to incorporate leading research and recent developments into his work and keeps a keen eye on industry news. Operationally, regular meetings with customers is routine at Sammet. “We have had many meetings with our customers to discuss their needs”, confirms Eronen. This is the “Sammet Way” of true partnership – working closely with all partners to find the perfect solution. Many companies fail in their product innovation because there is no authentic, on-going engagement, which is the best way to understand the frustrations and needs of everyone along the value chain. Internally, Sammet teams across the business share their customer insights as part of cross-departmental collaboration. “Asking questions, listening and gathering many views to make appropriate changes to the damper design ensures that everyone involved is satisfied”, says Eronen.

Tuote-esitys 5

One recent product improvement involved the soot cleaning pipes for Sammet’s ship dampers. Slight asymmetries between parts meant that placing the main input pipe into its proper place required using various pipe parts. On investigating the issue, Eronen realised that if relevant parts were designed to be symmetrical they essentially become interchangeable and reduce the range of parts needed. Interchangeable parts makes dampers easier to assemble. Eronen also discovered that symmetrical parts can be used for both right and left handed dampers. This simple design change has had significant benefits for Sammet and its customers. Order management has become smoother and manufacturing more efficient. For customers, the ordering experience is clearer and proposals are handled faster. “This modification will also make maintenance easier because symmetric parts are easier to reassemble and change if needed”, says Eronen proudly. Sammet’s constant attention to product development means that projects are better managed and the overall experience improves for everyone.

“We are not aiming to satisfy the needs of our customers but to exceed their expectations.” –Mr. Markus Eronen

In line with Sammet’s commitment to making life easier for its geographically dispersed customers, it has built a state of the art production facility in China. “The production plant is near one of the biggest shipyards in the world so the transportation of marine dampers is now much easier and faster, without compromising Sammet quality”, says Eronen. However, the Finnish approach of honesty in business never falters and Eronen points out that in this competitive industry, manufacturing in China has also brought its challenges. Eager to highlight how the challenges were overcome with perfect solutions, Eronen shares that “We have now designed dampers that allow us to divide manufacturing into clear subsystems: machining, welding, painting and final assembly”.
Sammet’s continuous investment in product development reflects its ethos of providing value and quality to customers. Improving products and processes allows a shift from providing the best dampers to perfectly meeting the specific and changing needs of customers. “We are not aiming to satisfy the needs of our customers but to exceed their expectations”, Eronen summarises. Maybe this passion for improvement and customer service is the secret to what makes Finland one of the happiest countries in the world.