Agile – Buzzword and reality – Edition 2

Agile – Buzzword and reality – Edition 2

A couple of weeks ago my trainee companion Hampus wrote about additive manufacturing (AM) and compared the functionality of the technology in real life versus the “Buzzword” and its expectations. With that, I though it would be a fun subject to continue with, but regarding agile work methods instead.

You probably already know something about the subject, under the last period of my studies it felt like I heard it from every company I talked to. Everybody “works agile” and pushed on the fact that this is the way to go for organisations to be able to still be a strong contender in their respective industry. Although, since no company actually explained why they used that method and merely spoke about the positive affects without any concrete explaination I got a relatively negative association to the buzzword. It only felt as is the companies brought it up to be trendy and be seemed as an attractive employer for newly graduated students.

For you who has never heard of it before, or you who are where I stood earlier and only heard the positive sides of it without any clear explanation to why that is; here is a short introduction to what the agile method actually is.

The easiest way to explain the agile working method is to compare it to the traditional methods, the so called waterfall method. In this classic project methodology you use sequential phases such as define, build, test and release. Every phase has to be completed before moving on to the next and the project can not go back to a previous stage. Most commonly you work with the entire product you want to release in to the market. However, with the agile methodology you are using iterative cycles where you have the same four steps as mentioned previously but you do it in small batches (sprints) multiple times instead where you work with a smaller part of the whole product during each batch (increment). For an easy comparison between the two methodologies, see figure underneath.

Waterfall vs Agile Methodology

After learned more about the concept and had the opportunity to be involved in a team at GKN utilising this way of working I have to say that all of my negative associations towards the buzzword has completely disappeared, since you can clearly see the advantages it provides. But instead of me talking your ears off it is better if I just list the top three things I believe that agile working improves.

Reducing complexity and difficulty while planning (define phase)

Since perfect information does not exist the waterfall method is difficult to use proficiently in real life, due to the fact that you will learn more about the market, the product and future possibilities over time. This makes it less optimal when completing the planning stage which is what is done in the very beginning of the project, since the circumstances will most likely change. With an agile method of working the planning is instead done in each interactive cycle, which leads to being more flexible when it comes to changes.

Focusing on the real value of what the product can provide

You usually say that 80 percent of the value comes from 20 percent of the functionalities in a product. In the waterfall method you do not know what these 20 percent are until you deliver the product to the costumer who will find it themselves through using it. The agile method, however, creates small increments at a time instead of delivering the entire product immediatly. This provides the opportunity of showcasing these increments and communicating with the costumer which will further lead to finding the real value, and furthermore be able to focus on the imporant parts.

Reducing risks

Working with the agile method will also reduce risks during the product development stage through always delivering and presenting the increments of the finished product to the costumer. This will cause feedback to come at early stage in the process and as a result decreasing the time and cost of possible corrections, in comparison to doing changes on a complete product if the costumer is not satisfied.

Hope this small introduction to the buzzword “agile” was useful and provided a brief understanding that it actually provides more value than just marketing the product!

/Rasmus Tyft

GKN at Armada 2019

GKN at Armada 2019

As most of you already know, every year the universities all over Sweden hosts different job fairs where the students can meet ambassadors from various companies. GKN is usually present at the majority of these fairs to inform the students of available summer jobs, thesis work, regular positions as well as the trainee program. This season’s first fair is called Armada and is hosted by KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology) in Stockholm today and yesterday (November 19th-20th, 2019). On site we had Tim Hallor, Erik Knutsson and Peter Emvin who represented GKN Aerospace.

Visiting a trade carrer show

Visiting a trade carrer show

On Wednesday, a career and trade fair was held at Lyrfågelskolan in Trollhättan. All the GKN Graduates in Trollhättan were there and talked about GKN, informing about Industritekniska programmet (ITU) that is part of GKN High School and what opportunities there are for working with technology. The ITU program has existed since 1992 and is both a college preparatory and a trade education. During the day we met several students who have a great interest in technology and it was fun to discuss what opportunities exist in the industry. We also had two ITU students with us Nora Fröberg and Ruben Östlund who are in the third year of the ITU program, they explains a little more detail about why you should choose this program. Now we can only hope that we have awaken an interest in technology in the students, who hopefully might be our future colleagues.

The GKN Graduates with Nora Fröberg and Ruben Östlund, happy after a job well done

This was all from me this time, see you again soon!

/Elamin

Judges for First Lego League

Judges for First Lego League

Hello again! It’s time for a new post!

This past weekend, we were given the opportunity to be judges for the first LEGO League regional competition here in Trollhättan at Innovatum. 15 teams from the region were given the opportunity to participate in the technology competition and compete for a place in the Scandinavian final in Roskilde, Denmark. Of course, GKN, which is a main sponsor of the competition, will be a part of the judges and we the Graduate Engineers were given that honor. This year’s theme is City Shaper, designed to inspire curiosity in architecture and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The competition is for students to program a LEGO Mindstorms robot to collect points on a course but also to work in groups and try to solve a social problem linked to this year’s theme, which is challenges in our cities and communities. As a former contestant and judge in First LEGO League, I think this competition is a great opportunity for youth to learn more about technology and programming.

A group of happy contestants!

Our job as a judge is to rate each group in four smaller areas where we were divided as Competition judges, Robot Desig Judge, Project Judge and Core Values Judge. The team that accumulates the most points wins the grand Champion Prize and are given the opportunity to participate in the Scandinavian final. During the course of the competition, all teams in the competition have done a brilliant job with their assignments. We judges got to experience a high level of programming, execution of assignments, strategies and collaboration.

A big congratulations to Byhålans Eliter from Centralskolan in Grästorp who performed a brilliant job and won the grand Champion prize!

Trainees from Siemens on a visit

Trainees from Siemens on a visit

Hi there!

This week has been full of meetings with value stream managers, planning our future assignments and travels as well as a nice visit from the Siemens trainees from Finspång! They were interested to know more about what GKN Aerospace is doing and how we work out in the factories, so of course we took it upon us to take them in and to show them around. It was a lot of fun having them here since they are developing gas turbines, which is very similar to an airplane engine. Both of them are partially made out of a gas generator, it is just that we are using it to create propulsion for the aircraft and they are using it to generate electricity, for example. Although, theirs are a lot bigger and heavier since they are used on ground level, and ours need to be light enough to not weigh down the entire plane. After the visit we went to a restaurant here in Trollhättan for a dinner together which was really nice! Now we are really excited to visit Finspång to see their site and how they are working with their products since they are so similar to ours, but used in such a different way.

Thank you for the visit, Siemens trainees!

 

Additive manufacturing at GKN – Buzzword and reality

Additive manufacturing at GKN – Buzzword and reality

It’s been a few weeks since we started our first rotations at our home departments and we’d like to think that we know what we’re doing by now. Well, at least we’ve learned a ton of abbreviations which you’ll soon get a taste of! I was thinking I’d write a bit about what I work with at the Global Technology Center (GTC), namely additive manufacturing or AM for short.

Additive manufacturing is a collection of manufacturing techniques that are based on building a geometry through layer-by-layer deposition of material. The most well-known example are desktop 3D printers that depose molten plastic through a movable nozzle. Nowadays they can be bought for a few hundred bucks at Amazon. At GKN we work with metal AM (MAM), which require machines that cost a few hundred thousand or millions of dollars instead.

3D-printer for hobby enthusiasts.
Metall-3D-printer på GKN Aerospace.

AM generates a lot of hype in general and specifically so in the aerospace industry. In comparison to for example the automotive industry we produce low volumes of products, which means the low deposition rate of AM processes is not as much of a problem. AM gives larger freedom in design than conventional manufacturing methods, for example by allowing internal voids in areas where material is not needed. This means that we can create a mathematically optimized design to minimize the weight of a component in relation to its performance. Lower weight means less fuel consumption and environmental impact – High five, Thunberg! Another advantage is in products that would otherwise require joining of multiple components. One example here is the rotor of our concept rocket engine Prometheus, which by use of AM has reduced the number of components from over 100 to just two (!!!).

Viktoptimerad AM-komponent för Boeing tillverkad av GE.

At my department we primarily work with LMD-W, which stands for Laser Metal Wire Deposition. In LMD-W molten metal is deposited on the substrate (the “base”) by laser heating of a metal wire, held by a robotic arm. The primary focus is to build features such as flanges on large structures, for example a product called Fan Case Mount Ring. Currently, the material is bought as a titanium forging weighing roughly 550 kg and is then machined to a final weight of about 80 kg. Instead, we may start with a forging of 80 kg, add 25 kg of flanges and other features by LMD-W and then machine to a final weight of 75 kg or so. We have then reduced the amount of material wasted by 94 %, which once again is an enormous environmental improvement!

Schematic of the LMD-W process.
Laser Blown Powder (LMD-P) is a sister technology to LMD-W which is also developed at GKN Aerospace.

Given what AM is capable of it’s hard not to hype the technology – what could possibly be sexier than lasers, robots and reduced environmental impact?

How does a jet engine work?!

How does a jet engine work?!

A new week of course means a new blog post and it is finally my turn to be writing it! Even for this week the days have been running away as we have been busy attending the last Training Days courses. A course most of us found it very interesting and valuable was Jet Engine Theory. It was a whole day course that went through the basics of how a jet engine works, especially the RM12 engine which is equipped on the Swedish fighter aircraft Gripen.

Some of you might already be wondering “how does such powerful engine actually work?”… But don’t worry! I am about to answer that question in a very simplified way. 😉

The first stage that the air passes through is the fan, which is mounted at the very front of the engine. It carries on to a low pressure compressor that is comprised of three turbine stages according to the picture below and then continues further to a high pressure compressor. The purpose with these stations is to compress the air, where both the pressure and temperature will be increased. Thereafter the air is directed to the combustion chamber, where it gets mixed with the fuel and then ignites, resulting in a very hot gas that exits the combustor. It then passes both a low and high pressure turbine (Recognizable?) that have the main function of powering the different compressors and the fan. In order to leave the engine the gas will have to flow through a convergent nozzle that accelerates the gases, providing thrust to propel the aircraft.

I hoped this post gave you a better understanding of jet engine. See you soon again! 😀

Training Days and visit from Saab Trainee´s

Training Days and visit from Saab Trainee´s

Hi everyone!

My first post on this blog and my first blogpost ever actually. Didn´t think my blog career would start in connection to my first job, but really fun to be able to share what we actually are doing as trainees!

This week has also been filled with action. Firstly, “training days” is an event occurring right now at the Trollhättan site. The event is over two weeks where you have the opportunity to attend in-house courses/lectures presented by co-workers, which is a perfect opportunity to learn more about areas you find interesting!

One example of a fascinating lectures was “Clean Sky”, which is a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European aeronautics industry. The overarching goal with Clean Sky is through this partnership, developing innovative, cutting-edge technology aimed at reducing CO2, gas emissions and noise levels produced by aircraft, which in a longer perspective also will contribute to the sustainable development goals. GKN is a part of several projects within Clean Sky and an example is the aviation engine in the image below, it is a prototype (demonstrator) developed by the company Safran in an attempt to come up with new ways to reduce fuel consumption further.

Open Rotor Engine – Safran

In addition to interesting lectures, we also had trainees from Saab visiting here in Trollhättan. It was a great deal of fun to have the opportunity to present our company (also interesting to test how much we have actually learned), network and hear about their trainee arrangement.

Cheerful group gathered

That was all from me this time, have a nice weekend and we´ll be in touch soon again!

/Rasmus Tyft

Start of rotations in our home department

Start of rotations in our home department

Hello, blog,

The recent weeks have been quite eventful for us trainees. But compared to the other weeks this week is different because now we are going to start with our rotations in our home departments (Hurray!!). The last week started with us spending Monday and Tuesday in Bohusgården where we had a course in group dynamics and leadership. But that’s not all, Monday ended with the traditional trainee dip in 5-degree Celsius water with clouds as far as the eye can reach, so now we’re trainees!! The evening, on the other hand, was a bit nicer with a three-course dinner and a lot of fun. Now that the Bohusgården courses are over, it’s time for us to start the rotations.

A happier group might be hard to find

As we say in the Aerospace business “time flies” and now we have all started our 10-week rotations in our home departments. This is a small description of what projects and departments each trainee will be on for the next 10 weeks.

  • Elamin Hamid Elamin: I will spend my weeks at Nozzle with data collection from old ARIANE 5 launches.
  • Elin Eriksson will spend his weeks at Propulsion engineering with a loop analysis of the control system in the RM12 engine.
  • Emily Chen will spend her weeks at ROTORS Engineering with a project in the field of software for the design of space turbines.
  • Hampus Olsson will spend his weeks at GTC engineering methods working with benchmarking of how aerospace companies work with simulation of additive manufacturing.
  • Rasmus Tyft will spend his weeks at Engines Digital with implementing AI to forecast inventory levels.

During these weeks, we will not only be working with our individual projects but also with our trainee project. We are still waiting for our major trainee project, an update on what it is will be posted in the near future. The weeks ahead will be very exciting and educational for us all. During the week, the trainee group will participate in various training sessions during the Training Days.

Now we will look forward to the fun in the coming time.

Thank you for reading, See you again soon!

First activity week

First activity week

Hi everyone!

Last week us trainees were on an adventure together. It was our first activity “week” (only three days this time) that we will have continuously in between our four department rotations that lies in our future. These activity weeks are intended for us as newcomers in the industry to broaden our knowledge and to form connections with other companies/GKN sites.

This time we chose to first of all visit GKN Aerospace in Kongsberg, Norway. This site is also producing engine parts to both commercial and military airplanes, just as we are in Trollhättan and that is why it is exceptionally interesting for us. The site in Kongsberg has around 500 employees and was established in 1987 to acquire the assets of the former jet engine division at Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk. It was really exciting and interesting to hear about the different programs they are involved in and to have a guided tour around their factory. We had a lot of discussions about what is to come in the future and the visions for the site in Kongsberg together with the former trainee Peter Hjortsberg, who began his career in Trollhättan but is now president of the site in Norway. A big thank you to Peter for allowing us to visit and for taking the time to meet us!

From the left: Hampus Olsson, Elin Eriksson, Elamin Hamid Elamin, Peter Hjortsberg, Emily Chen and Rasmus Tyft

The day after Kongsberg we went back to Sweden and to Gothenburg. We took the opportunity to go to Volvo Cars to learn more about their production, as they are focused more towards mass production than GKN Aerospace. We can easily say that everyone got very inspired and motivated to implement some of the aspects at GKN.

We also visited the Volvo Museum to learn more about our company’s background since GKN in Trollhättan once upon a time was a part of Volvo Aero

The last day of our activity “week” we spent at Aeroseum and SKF. Aeroseum was a fantastic museum to visit to gain a deeper knowledge of the history of our Swedish military aircraft. A part of GKN in Trollhättan are working on military engines, so to be able to see and read more about the history gives us a new perspective that we will bring back to work.

At Aeroseum we had the opportunity to get inside of several aircraft
We also read about the swedish military airplane, Viggen

We finished the entire trip with visiting SKF where we got an inspiring tour by Lars Werner. We got an interesting introduction to the company and an insight of how they work through innovation and digitalisation to gain high productivity. After this visit we went home with our heads full of ideas and motivation, just as after Volvo.

Thank you Lars for the visit!