FIMA just reached its 15th year as an active and well-known association of work machine actors, and that’s a long way to go. In the honor of that, it’s time to iterate what FIMA is all about.
FIMA, Forum for Intelligent Machines, is a network formed by companies that manufacture mobile work machines and SME companies that produce state-of-the-art technology of those machines, and researchers in the field. FIMA’s main task is to acquire knowledge about the new heavy machine technologies and empower its members to develop their products or services. To achieve this goal, FIMA has several ways of working it out from short webinars to long research projects.
FIMA has 33 members out of which 19 were there at the very beginning establishing the association fifteen years ago. The engine under the hood, Secretary General Antti Sirén, started in fall 2006, just after FIMA had been formed. Sirén has had the privilege to evidence the whole trajectory of FIMA from the very beginning.
“Interesting, inspirational, and always learning new things. That’s how I would describe the past 15 years in three ways. Many years have passed by, but those years have not been boring or similar to each other.” Sirén states. “It is very interesting to evidence the growth and progress of different member companies from this kind of vantage point. Technologies are developing all the time.”
The field of automation and energy efficiency have been on FIMA’s agenda from the very beginning. For example, work machine hybrid and battery technology, sensors and autonomy have taken a great leap in 15 years. Also, software’s have become crucial in products too.
Secretary and Board work together
Being a Secretary General means that you have many different tasks that vary a lot. On the other hand, it’s preparing new projects or thinking about content themes, on the other, it’s about arranging concrete events and meetings that benefit the members.
“Every day I’m in touch with a member or a research group. A big part of my job requires collaboration with different groups.”
An important partner in the work Secretary General is the FIMA Board, which is re-elected every two years.
“The FIMA board is not just an administrative instructor. It is more like a group of specialists that represents the whole membership”, Siren notes.
Projects and events
One of the most important tasks of FIMA is producing new information according to the needs of the industry and its companies. FIMA concentrates on screening what kind of knowledge the member companies need and how do they want to develop their production and performance.
FIMA does not have its own research organization, but it collaborates with Finnish universities and for example VTT.
In selected wide-ranged themes, FIMA prepares projects, which are typically funded by Business Finland. As a member of FIMA, members can participate in these projects in different roles depending on how current or important the project itself is. The results of the project are open to all FIMA members.
“We have theme groups about things that are widely interesting for our members. Around those themes, we also do the research. This model is normally led by large companies. For SME companies FIMA offers new knowledge as well, and perspective into the generic needs of this industry. Sometimes it’s hard to find a subject that is interesting to everyone even-handed.”
FIMA orders technology monitoring reports about fresh and interesting issues, also niche, from different researches.
Many of the events that FIMA arranges, deal with FIMAs main function: presenting new knowledge and research results. Some of the events are also arranged in collaboration with a stakeholder, like some of the university units, research consortiums and other ecosystems and clusters.
“A yearly highlight of FIMAs operations is the annual seminar where all the finished projects are being presented to everyone. A big number of companies and researchers gather together at that time.”
Easy to be a FIMA member
One significant service that FIMA offers are the technology reports mentioned above that FIMA gets made about 4-5 per year in different fields of technology. All the activities and events are included in the yearly fee. There are After Work sessions, demo days, seminars and result seminars, special forums for experts. All these are opportunities for networking and sharing experiences with people working in similar jobs.
“FIMA members are quite long-term. New members usually come from the SME system vendor sector. New members always bring fresh ideas to this association.”
The events are an important part of FIMA operations. It’s common that in the events a new kind of collaboration is born when companies are interested in the same issue. Other ways to network are the various task forces and theme groups.
With a very small amount of bureaucracy and one-time payment, the member gets to utilize a huge amount of knowledge data and collaborate with the most important work machine partners. FIMA offers information about the domain’s trends in Finland and abroad.
“The evolution of FIMA depends totally on the needs of our member companies. That’s why ongoing and close collaboration with the members is necessary. Also, we need to react to the changes in the operating environment. FIMA wants to remain as an agile actor, that can make quick decisions and utilize the existing funding and collaboration practices.”
And what is it that makes FIMA agile and efficient?
One factor is financial independence and FIMA’s own budget.
“The second factor is a good knowledge of both the industry and the members of the network: the right information and the right people can be found quickly when preparing something new. It is a custom to make a yearly member round where I visit all the members.”
This article was first published in the FIMABlog.