This month Fibox, the Finnish enclosure manufacturer, celebrates its 20th anniversary as a stand alone manufacturing and sales company. Here, Electrical Engineering looks back over the company’s history
Fibox’s story began in 1991 when the current owner, Tapani Niemi, led a management buy-out and, under his guidance, the company grew to the point that it moved to a purpose built factory and office complex in Jorvas near Helsinki in 1995. There it remained until 2008 when, as part of the company’s strategy to be closer to it’s existing and future customer base, a new 6,000m2 distribution and customer service hub was opened in Porta Westfalica, northern Germany. This better supported the established and expanding number of Fibox customers in the new member nations of the EU.
Since Fibox’s formation in 1991, 14 sales companies have been established across the globe with manufacturing being carried out in highly automated factories in Finland, China and Korea, with a customising facility now operational in Poland. The company has also moved its head office function to Espoo, not too far from Jorvas.
Early in the company’s development, Fibox realised that many of its customers considered service support to be one of the most crucial concerns when deciding from whom and where to buy - whether that be a single enclosure, a complete system, a totally customised product or a total solution offering intended to create a complete package that solved a specific problem.
Whether Fibox’s enclosures are required in aluminium or thermoplastic, its customers now include companies whose products and applications are vital to the transport, utilities, renewable energy, marine and telecom industries - all of which demand a variety of enclosure products that are suited to specific manufacturing methods and must adhere to wide ranging regulatory obligations.
Today’s industrial dynamics are changing and Fibox recognised that flexibility was a key factor in meeting its customers’ demands. Therefore, the ability to deliver products in ever shorter lead times is critical. Time to market for new products is decreasing, meaning more specialist products are created based on a made to order basis and occasionally manufactured as one-offs. In addition, the complexity and variety of these products is increasing.
Over the years, more and more OEM customers have teamed-up with Fibox - recognising that forming a close partnership with an enclosure manufacturer who has the capability to provide a one stop shop for all the specifiers various requirements, not only keeps the project in as few hands as possible (from design to delivery), but it also ensures that cost issues are transparent at every stage. The fewer links in the supply chain, the better the overall control.
Throughout Fibox’s history, specifiers from varying industries have benefited from the company’s industry know-how, with the company’s product managers having developed an ingrained knowledge that covers all the key topics needed to advise customers on enclosure types that have been developed and specifically designed for the housing of a variety of control and automation products and other devices. Being up to date with such information can enable designers to provide complete solutions and extra service to their customers.
So what does the future hold for Fibox and the UK thermoplastic enclosure industry? Well, only those manufacturers willing and able to invest heavily in market driven product development, state of the art production technology, in-depth stocks and employee development will be equipped to offer the sort of customer service being demanded by the markets.
It is also important not to ignore the role that quality distribution plays, and will continue to play, in the strategy of the leading enclosure manufacturers. Reliance on local stock and trained sales personnel is crucial to the future of the industry.
Fibox has successful expansion behind it and also has a planned strategy for continued long term development - and this at a time when many industries are facing an uncertain future, with the climate of fear and uncertainty causing many businesses to focus only on the short term.