SMEs are at the heart of Finland’s economy. Increasing their productivity, improving their competitiveness, and reducing their carbon footprint through the implementation of new technology will make a significant contribution to the sustainable development of our economy.
It is aimed to communicate the benefits, opportunities and pitfalls of digital solutions to a wider range of SMEs in the AI-TIE project cleantech accelerator. The project aims to increase the digital skills of Finnish SMEs and support them as part of a customer-centric network.
Saalasti Oy is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of biofuel processing equipment, which products are used all over the world. Saalasti acquired the entire share capital of Cross Wrap Oy in 2021 and Cross Wrap will continue as an independent company as part of the Saalasti Group for Sustainable Development alongside Saalasti Finland Oy. Cross Wrap designs and manufactures wrapping equipment and bale opening and unwrapping equipment for the waste, waste-to-energy, recycling and timber industries.
Data and digital services in the heart of the AI accelerator
Saalasti’s operation is strongly characterised by first-class technology and innovation. Since 1945, the Finnish family-owned company Saalasti has been providing sustainably specialised machinery and services for industrial processes and railways.
Saalasti and Cross Wrap consider it important to be involved in digital and data-driven development. This allows them to serve better their ever-expanding customer base. The areas under development are currently digital services and the use of data in the services provided to customers.
The idea of how novel AI-based solutions can be used in strategic operational processes and business development was brought to a practical level through the application of the tools used in the accelerator and the sparring discussions. The availability of key data and the early identification of data points in the process play an important role in a successful AI project.
Learning together in an AI project is a possibility
It is important to create together and develop new operating practices and services as a new organisation is getting organised. The AI-TIE project’s cleantech AI accelerator provided a great opportunity to brainstorm, learn and develop business together.
The AI accelerator involved business development and IT experts from both Saalasti and Cross Wrap, as well as the Director from the beginning. Saalasti and Cross Wrap together wanted to create awareness of AI within the group and learn more about the benefits it can bring to business development. Company’s ability to take into account and leverage the current skills of its own staff and the willingness to develop and, where necessary, acquire new skills is a prerequisite for continuous development, renewal and growth.
It is clear that AI projects need the support of senior management. Saalasti’s management noticed raising public awareness of the potential of AI as an essential part of the group’s growth. Large-scale adoption of AI always means a significant change. Major innovations require cross-departmental collaboration, changing work processes, switching from one familiar job to another and even changing the corporate culture. And as we know, corporate culture does not change overnight.
Translated from the Finnish by Sari Benford and Petteri Saloranta.