Škoda Transtech: “We Can Trust That Our Seals Are Top Quality”

Škoda Transtech: “We Can Trust That Our Seals Are Top Quality and Delivered on Time”

Škoda Transtech’s railroad car factory in Otanmäki is undeniably a pride in our country’s industry. All the stunning trams that make the lives of thousands of Finns easier and happier are manufactured there. For example, all Tampere and newer Helsinki trams have started their journey from Otanmäki.

Pasi Häkkinen, Purchasing Engineer at Škoda Transtech Oy

That is why many of us must be thinking: How on earth this big rail industry player can hail from this deep Finland’s wilderness?

About History

So, Škoda Transtech originates from Otanmäki, an urban area in Kajaani, northern Finland. Otanmäki, on the other hand, was born in the 1950s around an iron ore mine, which in turn was in operation in the area until the mid-80s.

The mine was originally owned by the state-owned company Otanmäki Oy, from which it was transferred in the 60s to another state-owned company, Rautaruukki. The story of the railroad car factory practically begins where the life cycle of the mine ended.

Therefore, the first steps of the current Škoda Transtech took place in 1985, when Rautaruukki founded a railroad car factory in Otanmäki called Transtech Oy to fix the employment situation in the area after the mining activity had subsided.

The business idea was nearly flawless for that time because the backlog was supposed to fill with the endless Soviet Union railway equipment needs. However, the stars aligned in a position where the entire trade partner country collapsed, and the Finns had to make a new plan.

The difficulties began to ease gradually in the late 90s when VR (The state railway company) started renewing its equipment and ordering them from Otanmäki.

Finally, after a few ownership changes, the factory found its current owner Škoda Group in 2015, and the name was also changed to Škoda Transtech Oy after the parent company.

Pasi Häkkinen, Purchasing Engineer at Škoda Transtech Oy, said:

“The most important criteria for seals are quality, safety, and delivery reliability. We feel that we can rely on FinnProfiles that our seals are of top quality and delivered on time.”

tram testing underside
Raide Jokeri underway: the last meters are approaching. The trams of the Raide Jokeri project are also test driven in Otanmäki on Škoda Transtech’s test track

Rails to the Top

However, after the low point, the operation has managed to be steered onto the rails that have led the company to the top of the rail industry. Škoda Transtech Oy currently forms the Group’s Region North unit, whose particular expertise includes the manufacture of arctic trams and other rail equipment.

Pasi Häkkinen points out while introducing the more than 5,4 hectare production facility:

“Almost 12,000 trains and trams have been manufactured in this factory in the last 25 years.”

As we walk towards the production line for the finishing phase of the trams, we can see the whole spectrum of the rail industry’s production. On each side, the chassis of the trams are either welded, their bodies are assembled, or the interiors are furnished. The factory employs a total of 650 employees. The rumor also has it that the best welders in Finland are among them.

During our tour, the Raide Jokeri project’s trams are in the making for the city of Helsinki. Initially, 29 trams were ordered, but 23 option trams have already been added to the backlog. After this, and partly already at the same time, work will continue on the trams of the second phase of Tampere. VR has also left its order at the end of the line.

Häkkinen says:

“These are all very appropriate projects for us because our tram model, Forcity Smart Artic, is designed to suit Nordic urban conditions. For example, all the trams we make for Helsinki and Tampere are from the Forcity Smart Artic product family.”

In practice, the Forcity Smart Artic means that the trams are low-floor models and will not startle, even if a huge load of snow suddenly falls from the sky. Even before the Raide Jokeri project, Škoda Transtech delivered 70 Forcity Smart Artic trams to Helsinki in its renewing fleet.

Häkkinen says:

“Whether it’s the material choice or the technical structure implementation, we can count on them to support our design team in matters related to seals.”

Tram Face
FinnProfiles Post-Production Services in use: Raide Joker’s windshields contain seals manufactured by FinnProfiles. The sealing profiles in question have been post-produced into ready-made frames with vulcanised joints

Seals Complete the Travel Experience and Safety

As you can imagine, passenger comfort and safety are Škoda Transtech’s top priorities. Both of them are often finished with high-quality seals.

FinnProfiles’ sealing solutions can be found in Tampere and Helsinki trams. For example, all the window seals are the work of FinnProfiles. In addition, the cockpit’s windshield and window seals, outer wall panel seals, and bow rubbers are supplied by FinnProfiles.

Häkkinen says and continues in almost the same breath:

“The most important criteria for seals are quality, safety, and delivery reliability. We feel that we can rely on FinnProfiles that our seals are of top quality and delivered on time.

“In addition, it must be stated that I also remember cases where we have needed seals as an urgent delivery, and FinnProfiles has always acted in a truly exemplary manner.”

On the other hand, the importance of quality is emphasized because the seals are exposed to extreme weather conditions, wearing, and, unfortunately, sometimes, also pure vandalism.

Häkkinen points out:

“If the seals don’t hold or if they break down easily, it quickly affects travel comfort, for example, in the form of draft and noise carried from the outside. Also, the general appearance of the tram suffers if seals are in sloppy condition.”

Safety has been taken into account in the selection of materials. All seals supplied by FinnProfiles are made from materials that comply with the fire, smoke, and gas standard of the railway industry (EN 45545-2).

Häkkinen concludes:

“We also appreciate that FinnProfiles can act as a consulting partner in our direction in issues related to seals. Whether it’s the material choice or the technical structure implementation, we can count on them to support our design team in matters related to seals.”

Read more about our solutions for railway industry here.

Škoda Transtech's Hervanta pit in Tampere
So far, FinnProfiles has produced 320 door seals for Tampere trams. In addition, all threshold rubbers are made by FinnProfiles. EN45545-2 approved EPDM rubber is uses as material

This article was originally published by FinnProfiles.

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