Oilon surprised by energy overhaul

The family business’ energy overhaul was even better than expected. Oilon is focusing specifically on improving energy efficiency in China.

Oilon, an energy technology company based in Lahti, Finland, is constantly improving the energy efficiency of its own operations, and reducing its emissions at the same time.

“In my opinion, companies should walk the talk. For us it is crucially important that we reduce the carbon dioxide emissions produced by our own operations,” says Oilon’s CEO, Tero Tulokas.

The energy overhaul at Oilon’s factory in Lahti was completed in August. The overhaul included improving the ventilation, automation, and heat distribution network. The facilities were also added to LeaseGreen’s remote optimisation service, which ensures that the new technology functions as expected. During the first year, data on how the facilities behave in different weather conditions will be collected. On the basis of this data, the heating will be slowly moved over to an AI-controlled system.

The first three months of data have shown the results to be much better than expected; gas consumption has been reduced by roughly 30 per cent and electricity consumption by 18 per cent. The carbon footprint has dropped by almost 50 tonnes.

“I am extremely happy with the savings. Our initial priority with the overhaul was to improve the conditions in the facilities as well as reducing our repair debt; saving energy was a secondary objective. The second phase of the energy overhaul will bring even bigger savings”, Tulokas says.

The facilities in Lahti were originally built in 1971, and have subsequently been extended many times. Currently, the facilities house Oilon’s management, product development team, and its largest burner factory. Employees number approximately 200.

Extensions easily result in extra building services technology, which doesn’t work together in the best possible way. The energy overhaul carried out by LeaseGreen rectified this problem.

Everyone at Oilon has been “extremely satisfied” with the cooperation with LeaseGreen.

“We have not been burdened too much with this project, and we have had good and sufficient contact with LeaseGreen,” CEO Tero Tulokas says.

“I particularly like the fact that LeaseGreen takes care of the work from start to finish and guarantees the agreed upon savings. Also, the life-cycle service ensures that the environmental objectives and promised savings are achieved and that the systems work optimally also in the long run.”

At Oilon, the improvements in energy efficiency are seen as an on-going process. A couple of years ago it invested in the energy efficiency of its factory in China, which uses geothermal cooling and a 100kW solar plant in addition to geothermal heating. In turn, its factory in Lapua uses a combination of geothermal and district heating. The next steps for the Lahti facilities are clear: build a 100kW solar plant on the roof and begin using geothermal heating alongside natural gas.

One million tonnes of savings

Oilon started out in Lahti making oil burners, but its business is now in making environmentally friendly energy systems and related services. In practice the company designs and builds burners and heat pumps that produce energy for industry and properties around the world. China is one of its most important markets.

“Our operations reduce carbon dioxide emissions in many ways. Heat pumps are the most efficient way to reduce emissions, especially if they use green electricity. Considerable savings can also be achieved if the fuel is changed from coal or fuel oil to gas or some other renewable fuel,” says CEO, Tulokas.

“Replacing outdated burner technology with new ones also reduces carbon dioxide and other emissions as they can be fine tuned to get better ratios.”

The scale is impressive. The changes Oilon made to the energy systems in Peking in one year reduced the area’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions by roughly one million tonnes.

In the near future, Oilon’s objective is to highlight its carbon handprint, that is, how many tonnes of carbon dioxide its operations reduce every year. An individual employee’s carbon handprint will be considerable.

From garage to global

Oilon was founded in a garage in Maunula, Helsinki, in February 1961 with the objective of designing, producing and marketing fuel oil burners.

“Back then fuel oil was a very cheap way of heating and many housing cooperatives changed from burning coke and coal to fuel oil heating,” says Oilon’s owner and former CEO, Ossi Leiwo. He has been involved in Oilon’s operations from almost its very first months.

Heat pumps were discussed seriously at Oilon for the first time already at the end of the 1970s when the second oil crisis ended sales of oil burners. They decided, however, to continue to produce oil burners.

“We thought that we weren’t able to do everything. It’s not easy, nor is it cheap to head off in an entirely new direction,” Ossi Leiwo says.

Resilience and patience have paid off. Oilon has done extremely well and has managed to shed its old skin as a Finnish producer of oil burners to become an international energy technology company.

What is the secret of Oilon’s success?

“Undoubtedly product development. It has been important right from the very beginning.”

Oilon directs six percent of its turnover into product development. In addition to energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, its objective is to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions as much as possible.

As a long-time prominent figure in industry, Ossi Leiwo is still concerned about the competitiveness of Finnish companies.

“It’s important to take care of competitiveness in every way possible – that includes training, employee costs, and taxation. I wish that Finns would learn to understand the rules of economics better than they currently do.”

Oilon became a family business in 1974. Its current main owner and Chairwoman of the Board is Ossi Leiwo’s daughter, Päivi Leiwo. The next generation is growing.

Always room for improvement

Attitudes have changed quickly all over the world. Oilon’s leaders say Finland is ahead of other markets in the field of energy efficiency. Nevertheless, even here we could still do much more. LeaseGreen’s CEO, Thomas Luther, agrees.

“Developments are moving in the right direction. However, there are still surprisingly few projects considering how many worthwhile ones can be found directly from large commercial properties and industry. Companies would not have to invest anything in these projects themselves, rather they are cash-flow positive right from the start.”

“Oilon is a great example of a company doing smart things and more than its fair share towards the environment. It has been a pleasure and very valuable to work together with them.”

More information

CEO Tero Tulokas
+358 44 757 6257

CEO Thomas Luther
+358 40 534 4256

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