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Extensive experience in the further processing of aluminium

Choosing partners with aligning values enables long-term partnerships. The end customer’s need for a high-quality aluminium profile that is further processed to suit their needs has brought together Mäkelä Alu and Al-Men Oy, a company that specialises in the further processing of aluminium.

Investment in modern production and continuous improvement are the basis for high-quality operations. In addition, a close-knit partner network offers significant advantages in terms of cost efficiency, flexibility, and delivery reliability. Al-Men Oy, which is situated right next to Mäkelä Alu’s aluminium extrusion plant, is a family business like its neighbour.


A flexible partner

Aluminium profiles are used to make a wide range of products from trains to ocean-going vessels, cash registers, large and small doors, windows, balconies, lighting fixtures, and many other products. Six-metre-long aluminium profiles are rarely, if ever, needed on its own.

“Further processing is quite often needed. Some operators have their own equipment, but a quality product always requires good equipment, and customers often do not have the means to invest in their own machinery. And it’s not always profitable, either. We have specialised in further processing and made significant investments in modern equipment so that the end customer doesn’t need to purchase expensive machinery,” says Antti Pokela, CEO at Al-Men Oy.

The transport, construction and electronics industries are the largest sectors in which Al-Men’s customers operate.

“Customer orders are typically “quick and small”. This means that batches are often small, and products need to arrive quickly. We manage the entire logistical chain, so all the customer has to do is order the pieces they need. Sometimes all we do is machining, and this is of course also the case at Mäkelä Alu,” says Antti Pokela.


Long-term cooperation

Antti’s father, Mikko Pokela, founded Al-Men Oy in 1999. Cooperation with Mäkelä Alu started right away. The company’s first longer machining centre was acquired in 2001.

“Of course, we have many important contract manufacturing partners, but Al-Men is logistically the closest to us, just across the road. Of course, there are also other contract manufacturers close by. Our further processing network is very cost-effective, and overall, it is constructed so that the pieces do not have to be transported long distances,” says Jouni Peltomäki, Subcontracting Manager at Mäkelä Alu.

“Al-Men can handle CNC machining, cutting, and sawing, not to mention welding. High-quality, reliable, and skilled work. Al-Men is also a customer of ours; we supply the aluminium profiles for their own customers’ needs,” he adds.

“Of course, sometimes our customers may have bought the profiles themselves from elsewhere, in which case we only do the necessary machining or other further processing. Very often, we can use Mäkelä Alu’s profiles, which has a positive impact on delivery time and the carbon footprint of transport,” says Antti Pokela.

“Our cooperation with Mäkelä Alu is close and smooth. We know each other well, and it’s nice to work together with people we know,” he continues.


Specialists in long aluminium profiles

Al-Men’s versatile equipment also contributes to the excellent delivery reliability.

“We wanted to invest in our machinery so that it meets a wide range of needs and enables us to respond quickly to them. We have a total of five machining centres that can machine pieces of different lengths. The maximum working length is up to 15.5 metres. There are not many such machines in Finland, or even in the Nordic countries. Our shortest machines are just under seven metres long,” says Antti Pokela.

“Some years ago, we also acquired a robotic welding cell, although small batches are still welded by hand. The robotic welding cell can also be used to efficiently process long pieces. This makes it possible to process and weld pieces up to five metres long,” he continues.

“For example, Mäkelä Alu’s AluBasket baskets are welded with the robotic welding cell,” adds Kati Pokela, Antti’s wife, who works as a management assistant at the company.

Työstökeskus Al-Men Oy:ssä
The longest machining centre can machine aluminium profiles up to 15.5 metres long.

Investing in the working environment and people

In addition to equipment purchases, the company has also invested in infrastructure and the operating environment.

“Over the past few years, for example, we have tarmacked our entire yard and renewed our lighting. We also built a new storage hall to complement our other properties. We had already bought two halls where our production is based,” says Antti Pokela.

“We handle a lot of long pieces, so improving the working environment not only gives us better working conditions, but also improves comfort and safety,” he adds.

“Employee wellbeing is one of our most important values. We have invested in the quality and safety of working environments, but we also offer extensive occupational health care, for example, and maintain an atmosphere where everyone can have their say on development ideas and participate in common issues, such as workwear choices,” says Kati Pokela.

Indeed, the company has a very low turnover of employees, many of whom have been with the company since its founding, more than 20 years ago.

It is important to Antti and Kati that Al-Men Oy’s employees have good working conditions. The company employs around 15 people.

Functional packages for customers

Al-Men’s focus has always been on providing the customer with an easy solution where further processed products are available as a one-stop-shop service. Customers do not always have sufficient information to buy machined aluminium profiles. They may have little or no knowledge of aluminium profile manufacturing. There’s a solution for this, too.

“In these situations, we receive fast and flexible proposals from Mäkelä Alu’s profile design team. This means that we can provide our customers with expert help in product design,” says Antti Pokela.

“The focus is on designing a functional profile based on the customer’s needs. Even small changes can improve product features or simplify assembly, which can bring significant cost savings to mass production,” he continues.

“Similarly, we can provide machining expertise to the design of a profile and see whether the planned machining can be done on the profile at all. We decide on the best option together,” says Kati Pokela.

“This way, we get a package that works for the customer,” adds Antti Pokela.

Machining is used to create the desired slots, holes, or threads in aluminium profiles. Machining can be done on pieces at almost any angle with high precision.

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