Article originally published in Global Cement Magazine
Global Cement speaks with Tana’s Josef Imp, as the mechanical waste processing equipment manufacturer celebrates 50 years in business.
Global Cement (GC): Please could you outline the founding and development of Tana?
Josef Imp (JI): It all started with courage, fuelled by Finnish integrity, when a young entrepreneur and inventor, Matti Sinkkonen, wanted to act smarter. He developed a landfill compactor built around an ordinary tractor equipped with rubber wheels. He sold the first such machine at an exhibition in Hanover, Germany, in 1971. Tana’s first steps towards becoming a global waste management business were taken. In 2021 it celebrates 50 years in business.
Today Tana is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of machines and equipment for mechanical processing of solid waste. It is a pioneer of using electrical control systems and intelligent solutions in its equipment. All of its operations derive from data-driven business, which it continuously develops further in cooperation with its customers.
GC: What is the footprint of Tana in 2021?
JI: Tana’s Headquarters and R&D Centre are located in Jyväskylä, Finland. Manufacturing is taken care of by a contract manufacturer in Akaa, Finland. Tana has offices in Tampere, Finland, as well as in Austria, Germany and Belgium, with 30 independent distributors globally. The company has a focus on Australia, North America, Europe and South Africa. The company has seen rapid, profitable growth in recent years, with an average of 22% annual growth in turnover over the past four years. About 90% of the turnover comes from exports, with North America, Europe and Australia representing about 95% of these exports.Our ethos is ‘TANA From Waste to Value®’ – for the profit and performance of our customers. In addition to its hardware, Tana generates value via its digital solutions and excellence in service and dealer support.
GC: What is the story of Tana’s first contact with the cement sector?
JI: When the company introduced the TANA slow speed waste shredders to the market around 2007-2008 it soon became obvious that it was an extremely good solution for alternative fuel production. A large proportion of the customers that purchased it used it for refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and tyre-derived fuel (TDF) production. As cement kilns were the most common customers of TANA owners, Tana, as the manufacturer, wanted to better understand the requirements for the out-put and the challenges our customers faced in use. This is how we first came into direct contact with cement producers. The closest one for us in Finland was Finnsementti Oy, but today we have multiple cement sector customers in different parts of the world that make TDF and RDF for their kilns.
GC: Which shredders are most commonly used for the preparation of alternative fuels for cement?
JI: Our new 440 Series mobile shredders with electric or diesel engine on tracks are the most popular. Just one machine can take care of the whole shred-ding process. It is capable of handling a large range of particle sizes. The 440 Series is able to produce homogeneous particle size from the widest range of input materials. It is robust, with high torque to shred large items like truck tyres, while being easy to operate and maintain.The cement sector is becoming more and more important to Tana, especially in North America, Australia and Asia. In these areas we see the number of machines delivered to the cement sector increasing by around 20%/yr at present.
GC: Please could you take us through the manu-facturing process of a large shredder?
JI: When the sales contract is signed, the order is placed for production, which also initiates the procurement of machine specific parts that Tana doesn’t keep in stock.The steel frame comes already semi-finished from the subcontractor, and the final production starts with assembling the shredder steel frame together with the driving platform, either tracks or wheels. The powerpack assembly, i.e.: diesel engine or electric motors, plus the necessary hydraulics, then starts, together with the frame assembly. Then they are put together in the next phase together with the hosing and wiring work.The final phase of manufacture is the final assembly, including necessary markings, accessories and options that were ordered with the machine, as well as the filling of necessary lubricants. Before shipment, the shredder is tested in order to make sure that it works properly, both mechanically and from a software perspective, and that everything is according to the customer’s specification.
GC:How has the pandemic affected Tana?
JI: As its business is, in most countries, an essential one, Tana and its colleagues from across its dealer network have been able to travel globally during the pandemic, of course taking care all the time and adhering to the highest possible health and safety protocols. Our Human Resources and Business Support team has taken great care in this regard and arranges trips that fully comply with safety requirements. That said, personal contacts and face-to-face meetings were replaced more with Teams meetings. Day-to-day production in the workshop was delayed somewhat and there were some issues with the availability of parts, due to delays in transportation and suppliers’ production capacity. However, overall this has not slowed down production. This is good because ongoing projects and new enquiries are now both strong. We had been very careful with our budget for the pandemic period but, as it turns out, we could actually see better results than we expected.
GC: Have the kinds of enquiries changed as a result of the pandemic?
JI: Because of subsidies and special support from the governments of different countries, there has been more activity in the waste treatment sector. Only the multinational accounts stopped globally for some months, but their projects and investments are now looking very positive once again.
GC:Can you comment on the development of Artificial Intelligence / Industry 4.0 during the pandemic?
JI: Our special intelligent solution like TANA ProTrack® has been further developed for new hardware requirements, and additional software developments are currently in progress.
Markets & Future
GC: How do you think demand for TANA shredders and associated equipment will develop over the rest of 2021 and into 2022?
JI: We expect growth of close to 40% again in 2021/2022, compared to the prior 12 months. This is due to the US market coming back again, as well as many African countries, which are starting many waste treatment projects. Recycling or waste treatment is becoming a factor due to initiatives in many countries. As well as these, we anticipate that Australia and Europe will continue to be strong markets for Tana. The UK is a strong customer at the moment and we have seen no negative effects due to Brexit to date.
GC: What lessons has Tana learned during the pandemic?
JI: We have learned how fast things can change dramatically. Flexibility is therefore very important and, thanks to our intelligent supply chain, we have a big advantage when it comes to reacting to these kinds of mega changes.
GC: What ‘pandemic-world’ practices will the company retain after the pandemic?
JI: We have already become used to virtual meetings and these will continue to be of value in the post-pandemic world. On the other hand it has also shown us how important it is to have personal meetings within the company and with our customers. There will be much sensitivity regarding how to balance these actions in the best manner. Also, it has emphasised how important it is to keep a strong positive attitude to the challenges we are presented with, both as a company and as individuals.
GC: Josef Imp, thank you for your time today.
JI: You are very welcome indeed.