January 16, 2014

Clearing the way for road safety

Arctic Machine is one of the leading Nordic developers of road maintenance equipment.
Arctic Machine is one of the leading Nordic developers of road maintenance equipment.
Artic Machine

Finnish weather technology is becoming a significant export. Promising markets for smart traffic weather services can be found in Northern Europe and Russia. Arctic Machine has gained a strong foothold in these markets. The company’s snow loaders will be used to keep roads clear of snow during this February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Arctic Machine, a family company with an international reach, is known for its intelligent road maintenance vehicles, among other things. The company equips road maintenance vehicles with everything needed for snow clearance and antiskid treatment as well as data collection and reporting.

“All the equipment can be controlled using a single control unit, making the vehicle efficient to handle,” explains CEO Juha Jääskelä. “The intelligent equipment improves road maintenance quality and enables cost benefits.”

Clearing snow from railway tracks

According to Jääskelä, snow and ice clearance is a narrow segment comprising a great deal of expertise in different fields. What is unique about Arctic Machine is its comprehensive expertise. Over half of the company’s turnover comes from the Nordic and Baltic countries and its main market, Russia.

The company’s latest advance is a snow thrower designed to remove snow and ice from railway tracks, which was delivered to the City of Helsinki last October. This year’s mild winter is bringing Jääskelä down.

“It’s January already and we still haven’t had the chance to try out the new unit,” Jääskelä says. “Next week we’re even supposed to have international guests over to take a look at the new product. But it is already clear that our product development will lead to new business opportunities in the rail segment.”

Arctic Machine is expecting a busy year despite the lack of snow so far.

“Last year our turnover increased 10–15 per cent,” Jääskelä says. “We’re expecting to see a similar increase this year.”

Sights set on international markets

Jääskelä feels it is important to continue the development of Finnish arctic technology. Combining the know-how of different companies would achieve synergies and new business opportunities. Co-operation is encouraged by the Finnish Road Weather Excellence (FIRWE) project, which is funded by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Other participants in the project, besides Arctic Machine, include VTT, Vaisala Foreca and Teconer.

“For example, mobile sensors and advanced technology can provide more up-to-date weather information,” says Raine Hautala, a research scientist at VTT. “With more timely and accurate information it is possible to offer road users better warning services and optimise the use of road salt, which would benefit the environment.”

Through FIRWE, VTT is creating a network for SMEs interested in export projects and offers research support to help develop services and find potential target markets.

“We promote the development of services that are beneficial to society, the growth and internationalisation of SMEs as well as employment opportunities,” Hautala sums up.

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