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Month: June 2017

Guestpost from Nick

Guestpost from Nick

Hello readers!

In case you missed my previous introduction, my name’s Nick and I’m a part of the global graduate program here in the USA.  I’m currently working at GKN Aerospace’s facility in El Cajon, California (not far from San Diego).  Our facility is split into nine different buildings, all manufacturing a wide range of parts for a few different companies.

The facility can be split into two main business units.  First is aviation repair, which makes up about a third of our workforce. Their job is to repair turbine blades that have small defects which are usually chips caused by corrosion.  The other part of the business is all about manufacturing various engine components.

Currently, I’m working as a quality engineer in building 2 engineering.  Here in building 2 we’re producing three main families of parts; the Trent rear fan case, the Allison compressor case, and the ARC case.  As a Quality Engineer, my job is to make sure every part meets our customer’s specifications.  You can think about this two ways, working to ensure our parts meet their specifications proactively and retroactively.

Working proactively can be boiled down into preparing each part for successes.  This is done first by making sure all the requirements of a part are captured and properly measured.  Currently, I’m working to create a first article report for a new drawing revision on our Trent 7000 rear fan case.  This involves a lot of work looking at every detail on the print our customer supplies, and ensuring that every relevant dimension on the print is measured and recorded at some point in our manufacturing process.  On a first article, our customer will be inspecting this recorded data to ensure its completeness.  To do this, I work closely with the Manufacturing Engineer to ensure that the processes they are developing capture the requirements.  I also work with the Senior Quality Engineer on my program, Phil Lankford, to develop new gauges we can use to capture some of these requirements more efficiently and accurately.  I’ve been learning a lot about design work in doing this, creating models and sketches while also ensuring the gauge design will capture what we want it to through mathematical diligence.

Working retroactively means facing the reality that, unfortunately, parts can be made that do not meet our customer’s specifications.  In this case, I work to understand the nature of the nonconformance, mainly; what is it, where is it, what specification is out of tolerance, by how much, and how did it happen.  Understanding these are all very important to our customers and us, but “how did it happen” is often the most important.  For each nonconformance, we have a meeting to discuss the root cause and corrective action (RCCA).  Root cause can be found by asking a series of “Why?” questions (i.e. “why is hole in the wrong location?” “because the program drilled the hole in the wrong location” “Why did the program…?”) until the last answer is your root cause.

Corrective action can be split into immediate actions to ensure the same nonconference is not happening on any other similar parts, and long term goals to ensure the same thing does not happen again.  We gather this information and send it to our customers so they can be made aware of the issue and determine the next steps; either accepting it as is, issuing a repair, or (in the worst case) not accepting the part.  Often, the more in depth the RCCA and clearly described the nonconformance is, the more likely our customer is to accept the nonconformance and buy the part.

In these past few months I’ve learned a lot about the manufacturing process, from the print to final produced part and everything in between.  I’ve learned about what it takes to make a part that meets our customer’s specifications, and what to do when they don’t.  I’ll be rotating one more time here at El Cajon, to another building, after the first article is finished and then it’ll be Sweden in September.  I can’t wait to keep you updated!




Hey guys!

It has been a while since we were out on our last activity week (our great Germany tour) but here is a post about the two visits we did in Munich – better late than never 🙂

We drove into a parking lot in a roped off industrial area in the middle of a residential area (or at least that is how it felt) to park our minibus outside GKN Aerostructures Munich. This did however not happen before we tried to enter the industrial area from the complete opposite, and wrong, side (we are blaming the navigator). Once we were in the right place, we met our two hosts – one of them was originally from Sweden. They told us so much about their factory and their products. The majority of the production consists of a range of components made in composites for the airplane wings. Two of these components are aileron and flap edge, which you can see in the picture below.

The ailerons are on the outer part of the wings and the flap edges are closest to the body of the airplane. By the way, the picture shows an Airbus A380 – the world’s largest commercial airplane, which we got to learn more about on another visit during our Germany trip (but more about that in another post).

Our two hosts were great and wanted us to have a great experience – both of their site and of Munich. Therefore, they were more than happy to help us find a nice spot to have dinner. We went to the English Garden and had a Currywürst by the water, which was awesome until it started to rain and we had to find cover with a bunch of Germans. We summarized the day as a great one – despite the rain!

The day after started in much the same way – with navigations problems. A very kind man helped us to find the right way to the visitors’ parking lot. He even jumped in to our car to make sure we got to the right place after having tried to explain the labyrinth of left and right turns. Once we found ourselves on the visitors’ parking lot we realized the spot where we had started was just a stone’s throw away, but the way there by car was complicated to say the least. Visitors’ parking lots in Munich do not seem to cooperate with us at all.

The company we were visiting was MTU Aero Engines, which is one of our customers. A large share of what they deliver to their customers is engine modules, the low-pressure turbine module for example. In comparison, we make components (low-pressure turbine cases for example) that are mounted into modules before being assembled into the finished engines. MTU are also responsible for the final assembly of some complete engines. It is relatively new for them and for this purpose, they have built a new assembly line, which is adapted to the operators and the product. It was very interesting to see how they had organized the line and to see how very flexible it was in order to facilitate the work for the operators as much as possible.

The engine they are assembling is called PW110G and is mounted on Airbus A320 neo (neo = new engine option)

To conclude: we had two awesome days in Munich!

A bright shiny morning

A bright shiny morning

As Niclas revealed already a month ago, us graduates were then at the moment on our way out on a new epic journey through Europe. For all readers, who have ever since then been longingly awaiting with great excitement and eagerness, arrives now at last one of the long-awaited stories from one of our legendary days in Germany.

It was a bright shiny morning when we woke up in our small guesthouse in Wolfsburg in central northern Germany, a charming city with 120,000 inhabitants. After stretching out our legs by means of a short walk to the nearest grocery store and drinking our morning coffee, we slowly began to awaken. We put our most professional business suits on and loaded us into our black minibus. In good time (of course), we started the journey towards today’s first goal.

It did not take long until we approached the city’s great pride, Volkswagenwerk, founded in 1938 by none other than Adolf Hitler (a shameful detail which the world’s largest car manufacturer strategically not told us about during the tour which we were then invited to). In this the world’s largest car factory, whose first buildings were already raised long before the city itself was founded, more than 75,000 people work each day. The surface occupied by the factory complex is huge (try entering Wolfsburg in Googlemaps and you will soon see an industrial unit that is equally big as the remaining parts of the city in whole). In fact, if you expect 60% of the inhabitants of the city to be fit for work, the available labor will still not suffice even if every single one were to work for the car giant. With such a huge staffing force, the Volkswagen factory becomes its own small society, and the need for employees in widely different areas far from the core business car manufacturing follows. For example, there is an own hospital in the area, an orangery that provides the offices and factories with uplifting plant life and a slaughterhouse that manufactures the local delicacy Volkswagenwurst.

The factory tour was made up of a seven-kilometer long ride in a tourist train, which rushed on with dizzying speeds along the factory floor, while a highly excited guide (and driver{/car thief?}) hollered more or less relevant information about the production. With our hands stretched in the air, it felt like we were in an amusement park as the g-forces struck us when flying over the ridges between the various workshops. During this experience, we were surrounded by around 2,700 robots that, together with all workers, spit out nearly 2 million cars a year, or one car every 18 seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A very much surreal experience!

The train we rushed through the Volkswagen factory in. Also check out the exciting movie describing the impressive production below:

After the ride at Volkswagen, it was time for a new speedy experience, this time northwards on another of Germany’s famous attractions – the Autobahn! With only a short food stop to enjoy the mythical VW-wurst, we quickly traveled north to Hamburg and our next stopping point in the adventure. It was time to see the final context of the products we manufacture and deliver.

On the Airbus site in Hamburg the A320, which we in Trollhättan manufacture TEC:s (Turbine Exhaust Cases) and the IMC:s (Intermediate Compressor Cases) for, is assembled. Airbus A320 is one of the world’s most successful aircraft programs and so far more than 7,500 planes have been manufactured. For us who work with the sole engine components every day, it was great fun to see them in their surrounding context. Even more exciting, however, was to closely observe the assembly of the airframe for the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft with capacity for up to 960 passengers and with a wing area of ​​845m2 (or equal to five normal sized villas!).

Not until nightfall our group of tired, but very happy trainees left today’s second visit full of new inspiration and knowledge. A day well worth remembering had sadly come to an end!

Airbus A380, the worlds largest passenger aircraft!

IGP – Week in Stratford upon Avon, UK

IGP – Week in Stratford upon Avon, UK

Group dinner in Birmingham the weekend following Stratford. Unfortunately some had flights out in the morning but most of us joined.

It`s a bit late but I would like to give you a recap of what Malin, Neil and myself did in Stratford upon Avon beginning March (more than learning about Shakespeare). As you guys know by now the three of us are part of the International Graduate Program (IGP). It`s a program similar to the Aerospace graduate program. We`re all encouraged to try different areas within the business like purchasing, manufacturing, commercial, etc. The difference is we`re allowed to work within the whole GKN plc group and our program stretches for 5 years instead of 18 months. If you use the search function you will find a blog-post with more information about the program.

Last year 7 people were recruited to the IGP program. Since we`re 7 people joining an engineering company with close to 60’000 employee with manufacturing locations in 33 countries around the world the opportunities to meet these colleagues are limited. Even modern technical meeting techniques such as Skype are hard to manage over all time-zones.

First week in March we were given the opportunity to finally meet. We all attended a great learning week in Stratford upon Avon. The week focused on Leadership development, presentation skills and networking. To give you a better Idea I will give you a recap of each day;

Day 1: We met up for lunch and had a session were everyone introduced them self. Later the same day we had a session with the HR Director for the Aerospace division. Topics discussed covered how GKN can create a stronger brand and attract more talents around the world. Did you know GKN is partner to Porsche 918 Spyder, Ferrari California and BMW i8? GKN also have a sub-division within Driveline developing world leading racing equipment (Le-Mans 24hours for example).

Day 2; Topic for this day were “Leading yourself”. We went through a number of exercises to find out how we as individuals worked as leaders. We also covered different leadership styles in general.

Day 3; “Leading others” was the topic of this day. With the insights from day 2 we took it one step further and discussed different ways of handling a team and/or project. A lot of usable tools were presented and many of these were easy to use and implement in my day-to-day work.

Day 4; “Telling your story”. The day started with all of us presenting our stories of how we got to where we are today. The aim is to exceed in you telling skills. If you are able to engage and sell your idea the chances for success is way greater. We had to go through the mental pain of having the presentations filmed to later review it and work on improvements (you don`t want to see yourself presenting, trust me).

Day 5; “Presentations”. During the last day we had company from senior managers at GKN. We all presented our stories and the career goals we have. After the presentations we had a good networking session to learn more about the possibilities and opportunities within the different businesses GKN have.

During the evenings we all took the chance of getting to know the colleagues better over some dinner and drinks. Great group of people and I had a blast all week.

Thanks to Sarah Humpidge and Pauline Mullin for making such a great week possible and for flying in people from all over the world. Had so much fun!!!

Ohh… I almost forgot. We had more graduate colleagues nominated by the business joining the IGP training week as well. You can see us all in the picture below.

Picture: All participants gathered outside the Stratford Hotel.

From left-back: David Johansson (IGP, Swede), Uppili Srinivasan (IGP, India).

Third row from left: Damian Kolodziej (AM Graduate, German/Polish), Courtney Boehmer (IGP, USA), Emily Pringle (IGP, USA), Neil Irwin (IGP, UK).

Second row from left: Marcel Jordan (Legal/Business Law Graduate, German), Jangbo Xu (Chinese Graduate Program, Chinese), Katie Ziegler (IGP, USA), Malin Radberg (IGP, Swede)

Front: Pratik Dharangaonkar (Powder Metallurgy, India)  

Landvetter Airport – so much more than you think

Landvetter Airport – so much more than you think

The trainee group does as, as many of you are familiar with, study visits the companies and GKN sites relevant to the aerospace industry and on Monday we had the privilege of visiting Landvetter airport. An airport is in many ways the heart of the aviation industry, aircraft of all kinds land and take off and every day thousands of people are flowing through the airports of the world on their way to the next goal. If we learned anything from this visit, it was that an airport is much more than meets the eye when you’re traveling!

The airport was built in 1077 and celebrates its 40th birthday later this year. At the airport there are three different parties responsible for different things:
Swedavia manages the airport, they are responsible for the premises as well as all logistics that are included in allowing the passengers to flow through the airport smoothly, from the point of arrival to the airport to the point of being on the plane ready for takeoff. Airlines (such as SAS, Ryan air, etc.) negotiate with Swedavia to use the airport. They own and are responsible for the aircrafts. The airlines, in its turn, hire a handling companies of their choice that are responsible for many of the services the airlines sell, for example all boarding related tasks. It means that the persons standing behind the boarding desk when you board an airplane are not airport personnel but employees hired by the airline you travel with.

During our visit we got to see a lot of the things you never see when you pass the airport as a tourist. Amongst other things we got a sneak peek into the black box that constitutes the handling of the baggage.

What really happens between the times when you leave your luggage on the carousel until it arrives at your destination? The baggage is transported into a room full of carousels at different levels from floor to ceiling and is handled via an advanced system of x-ray machines in different steps along the way to be loaded onto the right aircraft. The bags that go through the x-ray without trouble go one way, whilst the bags that do cause the x-ray machine to react (about 37%) go another way. A hatchway is then opened that forces the bags onto a belt leading into more advanced x-ray machines. Common things that can cause a reaction are detergents, hammers and gingerbread dough. After this the bags are transported onto one of many belts depending on the baggage tag and are then loaded onto different carts and then loaded onto an aircraft. Checked-in animals are picked up manually on the way to the plane.

One thing that they work extensively with at Landvetter airport is the airport’s impact on the environment. Their goal is to have no emissions of fossil fuels by the year of 2020. The airport has its own fire department and fire training site. To protect the environment from dangerous substances, such as PFOS, found to be in fire extinguisher they have created a closed system around the fire training area. All waste is collected and transported to closed wells where it is picked up and taken care of. Landvetter is among the best in the world with regards to take care of PFOS.

The reality is that, on an airport, sometimes bird strikes occur when the aircraft lands or takes off. Of course, they want to avoid bird strikes as it is a very unfortunate experience for both birds and pilots. Unfortunately, the bird strikes at Landvetter airport have increased markedly in recent years, as dams have been built nearby that attract birds. In only a couple of years, the number increased from 15 to 120 bird strikes per year. In order to overcome this problem, they have come up with a lot of creative ideas at the airport. Everything from planting sharper, more unpleasant grass around the airport so that the birds will not like it as much to trying to get rid of the insects so that the birds will have less to eat around the airport has been pondered upon. Lacking a permanent solution, they currently have two teams that alternate in walking around the runway trying to scare the birds off.

We also had the honor of meeting the airport manager Jörgen Bergstrand, who has also worked at GKN in Trollhättan for 17 years! Riding an airport shuttle bus on the 3.3 km long runway was a new, exciting and unexpected experience, thanks to the very engaged bus driver (seen in the rear view mirror in the picture)!

Landvetter is a growing airport and it is fun to see. They have many years’ worth of projects already started. The projects will bring new terminals, more carousels, an increased capacity, a new hotel and an area with a shopping center and offices for companies to rent.

Landvetter city is emerging!