Expert Talk: Introducing Tomi Kankainen, Fastems (CDO & VP)

30 Oct 2020
by Ida Riikonen

Tomi Kankainen, Chief Digital Officer and Vice President in Fastems, takes care of Manufacturing Operations Management Software Business. Kankainen’s interests lie on creating services and products, and finding new innovations. 

“In this Pandemic situation, Demola has shown that you can turn a challenge into a possibility: the platform brings together diverse, multi-talented international teams which can work together regardless of time and place and create significant new knowledge on trends. They are cabable of making rather unexpected findings and bringing new facets into things.

In Fastems, we build automated Flexible and Agile Manufacturing Systems and MOM software which serve the needs of the industry,  while the automation rate is growing higher and higher. This type of automation and software is the ultimate way for manufacturing products in variable batch sizes even down to lot size one, where line automation or non-automated and mismanaged work is no longer an option. However, looking at the big picture, , the most important question is why something is manufactured, for what reasons. The question of why in a large scale is in the core of my field of interest and expertise.

Above all, I look for innovations and the big picture. Demola teams have the ability to come up with answers and help companies like Fastems to focus their actions on correct areas. At the end of the day it is up to the companies to decide whether they want to find possibilities and go along with the significant findings or not. Automation and digitalization are big themes, but at the same time they are just tools – the goal and the why are more important. The context of Demola gives the companies a justifiable possibility to find and modify meanings and directions.


Tomi Kankainen. Picture: Fastems

Globally, solving the pandemic situation is one of the most important themes right now. And even though it is important, it is still a short-term problem. In the development of medicine, the question lies on improving solutions to upcoming challenges. If this pandemic would have struck us a hundred years ago, more people would have died before we could have come up with any solution. How could a conservative development area, such as medicine, take more agile methods into action? Even the FDA-approved waterfall model used in the vaccine development is changing because it needs to, the product development and the testing cycles are developing in order to get the vaccine out on the market fast. Therefore, bringing agile principles and development models into different fields becomes the key of solving even wicked problems, fast.

Another situation demanding agility is the global warming. Industrial automation in the means of enhancing the production is just a small piece of the chain in the big picture, since it enables us to make things more resource-efficiently. Yet again, the real question is what we should produce, since the production is still constantly making a lot of unnecessary things.

In a macroscopic view we should, for example from manufacturing companies’s viewpoint figure out where the focus should be directed to in order to make sustainable and reasonable solutions towards the future. Building a new business based on the use of fossil fuels might not be a good idea in the long run, so another solution has to be found. Burning coal or oil is a dead end, and instead of using them we should look for new solutions. Demola teams can once again offer new viewpoints on these challenges. Demola teams can answer big questions and enable companies to find new paths on many levels. Admittedly, there are challenges, like the fact that manufacturing companies for instance are often quite introverted and stuck with their own errands. They like to dwell in their own boxes, blinkered, without seeing the whole picture. It is valuable to gain fresh thinking and findings from the outside. However, in typical situation, the challenge is to receive companies’ attention. Thus hierarchical structures need to be shaken up, and we must also find better solutions to communicate the value of the findings.

All and all, the Pandemic in all of its horrible might is an opportunity we must use for making a difference.”

Tomi Kankainen became a Demola board member in the summer of 2020.

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