From wind to sea
The manufacturer of renewable energy equipment, The Switch, may nowadays be part of the large Yaskawa enterprise, but the spirit of innovation that prevailed as a startup company remains as strong as ever. With the assistance of its new owner, the company has made a great leap in growth, resulting in a significant improvement in its net sales and earnings. One of the reasons for this growth is that the company, now well known as a key component manufacturer for the wind power industry, has succeeded in expanding its product range successfully to other industries as well.
“We are able to make use of the same basic technical solutions and product platforms and tailor them to suitable solutions for different industries,” says Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, CEO of The Switch.
The marine industry has become the second-most important industry in the operations of The Switch and the company is aiming to increase its share of the business by 200% over the next five years. In 2016, the company acquired the operations of Wärtsilä’s medium and low-voltage power drives designed for marine applications, which has boosted its success in the marine industry. Mäkinen says that with the deal, The Switch’s product range and markets have expanded and that the company is able to offer its customers even more complete drive train solutions.
“Within a relatively short time, we have significantly increased deliveries to marine industry customers and have gained significant head-starts in Europe and Asia. The latest large market opening was in Japan.”
However, most of The Switch’s production still goes to the wind power industry. Mäkinen believes that wind power will also hold a strong role in the future.
“Wind power is the cheapest way to generate renewable electricity and the threshold for its exploitation has now finally been overcome,” he says.
Increasingly efficient turbines are significant to cost-efficiency levels. The Switch’s permanent magnet generators are currently being manufactured, for example, for MHI Vestas’ new offshore turbines, which generate power at an impressive 9.5 MW level.
“The generators for these massive offshore turbines are now in mass production to meet the booming offshore wind demands in Europe. We also see this same trend towards more powerful turbines spreading to other parts of the world,” says Mäkinen.