How to compete globally from Scandinavia
An essential reason for building The Plus is to prove that it is possible to compete globally from Scandinavia. Manufacturing in high-cost countries means we must work smarter and more efficiently than our competitors. But it is possible, and Vestre aims to prove it.
In recent years, Vestre has tripled its sales revenues and has high ambitions for further growth. We expect our marketing efforts in Europe and the USA to lead to a substantial increase in demand. This means we must increase our production capacity, and we must do it in the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective way possible. How?
Self-learning robots and 30-second colour changes
In the fourth industrial revolution, the internet and artificial intelligence will meld with manufacturing and products. This will enable our factories to tailor individual products for customers' specific needs at a similar price to off-the-shelf, mass-produced alternatives.
And for Vestre, digitalization through Industry 4.0 solutions will free our employees’ time, allowing them to focus on high-value tasks and high-level projects, while self-learning robots handle complex production tasks with thousands of product combinations, material alternatives and over 200 colour options.
Some of the Industry 4.0 systems The Plus will use:
- Using self-learning industrial robots, object recognition and artificial intelligence to automatically give products their final colour coating. Such robots can switch from one colour to another in 30 seconds instead of 15 minutes.
- Reducing waste to an absolute minimum with intelligent scanners that optimize the wood processing.
- Driverless electric trucks that autonomously manage the flow of goods through production.
- Collecting vast amounts of production data and processing it using artificial intelligence to continuously improve and optimize both the production line and new product development.
And, the factory manager can control the entire factory from a tablet device.
Using this technology in conjunction with employee-driven innovation – the so-called Nordic model – The Plus will manufacture faster, greener and at a lower cost, for the benefit of customers worldwide.
Scandinavian industry joining forces
Norway, Sweden and Denmark have a combined population of 21 million. In a world that will soon be home to 8 billion people, it goes without saying that we cannot be the best at everything. This is why Vestre is so passionate about Scandinavian design and industrial collaboration, and why we believe that the Scandinavian countries should join forces more often to compete in global markets.
For Vestre, basing design, development and production in Norway, Sweden and Denmark is a strategic goal that builds on our shared historical, industrial, artistic and cultural traditions.
Vestre Steel Factory
Vestre's steel factory is located in Torsby, in the Värmland region of Sweden. With a rich industrial heritage and one of Sweden's best vocational training schemes, Torsby has a plentiful supply of highly qualified labour despite its small population of around 12,000. The town sits strategically on the E45 highway, which runs from Alta in Northern Norway to Gela on Sicily's southern coast in Italy. And it is just 90 km from Magnor, where we are building The Plus, and 170 km from our headquarters in Oslo.
The internationally acclaimed architects at Snøhetta designed the factory, which opened in 2013. Today, it is the workplace for some 30 people and has around 3,500 m2 of floor space. On sunny days, it is self-sufficient in renewable energy from solar panels on its roof.
In recent years, the Torsby factory has improved its productivity by over 50 per cent, which has significantly boosted Vestre's competitiveness. We have achieved this through employee-driven innovation and substantial investments in automation and new technology.
When we open the Vestre Colour & Wood Factory at Magnor, the Vestre Steel Factory in Torsby will focus on the production of steel and aluminium components, which in turn will be transported to Magnor for coating and assembly aboard our Tesla Semi electric HGV. At the same time, we will be repatriating more metal processing work to the Torsby factory, which will require substantial new investments and create new employment opportunities at the Swedish facility.
In this way, Vestre will create more green industrial jobs in both Norway and Sweden.
Competing globally from Scandinavia while accelerating the green shift
Industrial production in high-cost countries can be a resounding success. The key is to seize whatever opportunities are available. Concentrating production within a limited geographic area gives greater control of the value chain and makes it easier to ensure environmentally friendly and ethical production, with the right working conditions. The Plus will be an example of this, and will inspire others to participate in the “green shift”. There is too much talk about sustainability. We want to see real action.