Hello there blog lovers Now I’m back again from a week’s vacation in the United States where I went to New York and Connecticut. Since I was in the area I took the opportunity to visit GKN Aerospace’s site in Newington, where last year’s graduate, Niclas Persson, is doing his international rotation (I’ve heard rumors that he will make a blog post shortly).
At Newington I was warmly welcomed by Oscar Höglund who has been working as the Engineering Manager for over a year now. Beside general information about their site I got a tour in the production area, which was interesting and informative. I have really got another perspective on our own site in Trollhättan. We are big. We have more than 10 times more employees and we have a lot of additional processes besides manufacturing, something that I’ve previously taken a little bit for granted.
Besides Oscar and Niclas there are about 2-3 other Swedes working at the site, and Newington is generally used to hosting Swedes. Joakim Andersson, Engine Systems CEO, worked as the General Manager in Newington for some years. Fun fact: there is an engraved stone under a tree in the area which says something like: “Thank you Joakim Andersson for everything you have done for us”.
Due to photo restrictions you will have to settle for a photo of the sign outside the entrance but I’ll make it up with a photo of Niclas and I in Central Park instead 😀
This is Emelie, from last year’s trainee group (what happened to time, feels like it was yesterday I started and now I am already “last year’s group”?!). I’m doing a little comeback in my blog career, even though the blog is handed over to the new stars of GKN. As you might suspect I am on my international assignment (second month) and I am therefore located in San Diego, California. To be precise I am actually in El Cajon when I write this, about 20 minutes east of San Diego, as this is where our site is (I live in San Diego however).
The site consists of a number of buildings and each has its own products. Ironically enough I am so far mostly involved in the only building where military parts are produced, and I am therefore not allowed to go around in the building however I want. Do I want to go out on the shop floor I have to have someone with me at all times, which becomes a bit frustrating after a while. Soon I will start a project regarding automation in another building – where I can go around on my own! I also spend a lot of time with the Lean team and I get to be a part of different events and classes. Just this Wednesday I was on the first of four days of a Lean course.
It is a different world over here, in so many ways. For starters they keep parts outside here! That is completely impossible at home (as metal, snow, rain and cold is not a very good combination). That works fine over here though (at least for some time) as it seldom rains, snows or is cold. The same goes for me now that I think of it: I spend a lot of my time outdoors here as it is sunny and warm most of the time.
I live in a studio by Mission Beach, approx. 100 meters from the beach. It is sooo nice to be able to just walk outside my door to run along the beach, get some sun at the beach and watch sunsets. I really enjoy it here! During the weekends I try to go to a new hiking spot each week (there are so many around here!) and also see a new part of the city each week. So far it has been amazing! Last weekend I went to LA, but I wasn’t that impressed. I think San Diego is a lot better in every way!
I wish you the best dear readers, and maybe you’ll hear from me again!
In my first blog post I wrote about my time so far at GKN, from thesis work to an employment at RnT and to my position as a graduate today. It has been a fun first time as a graduate where I continue to work on projects within RnT and additive manufacturing (AM). I would very much like to explain what kind of projects I am working on to you readers, but unfortunately it is difficult since I am working with development. GKN of course wants to keep all the good things to themselves! Generally we are constantly exploring which of GKN’s engine components additive manufacturing can be applied to. Many components are based on large and expensive forgings or castings which we then machine to final form. We sometimes machine off closer to 80 % of the raw material which turns in to waste, crazy huh? That makes additive manufacturing a useful method to instead build up material which leads to smaller and cheaper forgings or castings to purchase. We have airplanes that flies today around the world with additive manufacturing applied, which we are proud of. There is after all very high quality demands to meet in order for components to fly, both from us as a company and our costumers but also authorities.
What I can tell you is an especially fun opportunity that I got a few weeks ago. I received an inquiry to speak at an international seminar at Chalmers in Gothenburg. The seminar, Frontiers of Additive Manufacturing, gathered around 200 people from various companies and universities that in one way or another work with additive manufacturing. I shared what GKN Aerospace has developed throughout the years and the things we have flying that is manufactured with AM. It was a great and challenging experience to speak in front of so many, and far more experienced, people than myself! It was the first time on a big stage for me and I must admit that is was a bit thrilling. But it was a lot of fun!
Words of wisdom for today: Sometimes one have to do things one do not dare, otherwise one is not human but just some dirt
– Astrid Lindgren
Last Friday, Emma, Lisa, Maria and I participated in a debate for girls at Högskolan Väst to discuss about why so few girls apply to educations within engineering. The last couple of years less and less girls have applied to technical educations. The question is why and what can we do to deal with this issue? The participants in the debate were students from secondary school, high school and university together with one headmaster and girls from different companies. This made the discussion very interesting since we had very different perspectives and we believed that the problem starts in early age. The participants had a theory that a lot of young girls have anxiety of performing poorly, which makes them think that they can’t manage an education within engineering since it’s too difficult. We told the other participants about our graduate project, that we will present to 9th grader what an engineer does and we got a lot of positive feedback for this initiative.
Since I am the only women at my department, I think it is important to highlight these kind of questions and engage in this issue. When I was young, I had no connection to engineering through family nor friends. Therefore, it took a long time for me to understand what an engineer actually does. I think it’s important for youngster, especially girls to meet female engineers to get some kind of role model. It is very exciting to be a graduate engineer since these type of tasks are part of my daily work. J
Next week, Philip and I are going to Germany for a study visit but I will tell you more about that in my next blog post!
Last Saturday, the majority of this year’s trainees volunteered as judges at First Lego League in Trollhättan where GKN was the main sponsor. This was done as a part of the trainee project with the goal of inspiring youths to choose technology. The idea of having to work on a Saturday might not be appealing to everyone, but in this case it was actually great fun!
First Lego League is a competition for elementary school classes where they design and program a lego robot, this is done either in the students’ own spare time or connected to the school’s technical education. They then compete by performing various assignments on a course and aim to get as many points as possible. The teams also conduct a project in connection with this where they come up with solutions to various current issues. For this year, the theme was “Hydro dynamics”, where the students were supposed to come up with solutions to water-related problems, for example today’s high water consumption in the western world or water shortage in developing countries. For example, suggestions were made for applications that log water usage or a water mixer that separates clean drinking water and dirty shower water and then use it for different purposes as a solution to the problems.
At the competition we were assigned different judge roles, ranging from robot judges to core value judges. I myself was a technology judge and got to judge the design and construction of the lego robots as well as the programming. A total of 15 teams participated in the competition, but as always, there could only be one winner: Team Dalenium, who received the honor, a lego trophy and 30,000 in travel allowances to participate in the Scandinavian competition in Oslo. Not bad for a high school class. All teams were extremely talented and had really thought through their projects and design of robots. It was fun to see the drive of the participants and I really think that an event like this is important to increase the technology interests among today’s youths.
At my home department, purchasing, all is going fine. I have control over my projects and I get to meet many new people at the company. Because the rotations of the trainee program are so short, it is not possible to get any responsibility for, for example, a supplier where it is important to have long term relationships. Instead, I am working on projects connected to purchasing, meaning that I get the opportunity to walk around the company and talk with people from the entire organization.
Since last time, Dropship Project has been put on hold since we realized that it partially coincided with Project Balken. In Project Balken we investigate the handling of spares to see if it could be done more efficiently anywhere else than in production. In this project, I have so far met operators in the various workshops as well as material managers and DQR to get an overview of the current situation. The next step is to consider how the control of this might look in the future and then evaluate whether this is possible to implement or not.
I have also recently started a new project that we can call Project Conflict Minerals. A background for this project is that warring groups in the Congo region break and sell minerals to finance their operations, such minerals include: gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten (3T+G). To solve this problem, we try to overcome the demand of minerals suppliers who support warring groups, so it is important to know about how our suppliers work with these minerals.
The idea of my trainee position is that I have purchasing as my home department and that I most likely will get a permanent employment here after the trainee program. Since I do not work so much with my colleagues at my own department, I was a little curious about what one actually does in the daily work of the buyer. I have now been awarded a “fadder” at the purchasing department, namely Elin Elmdahl, a former trainee and now buyer of castings that I get shadow and help alongside my own projects. Elin invites me to supplier meetings and teaches me about the different computer programs you work in as a buyer, which is not the easiest at the beginning, but it’s fun and the days are going fast! Here’s a short interview with Elin:
Describe GKN in three words: Multinational Aerospace company
What work do you do at the purchasing department? You have the main commercial responsibility for the suppliers, evaluate new suppliers, purchase materials, negotiate contracts and handling conflicts that occur during current contracts.
What is the best parts of your job? It is a dynamic environment with many contact areas. External contacts and travel from time to time to suppliers provide extra spice in the everyday life.
What’s the worst parts of of your job? It includes some administrative work e.g. to review blocked invoices due to an imbalance in the purchase order between goods receipt and received invoices.
Why should one become a buyer? As a buyer you have a great opportunity to influence and improve cooperation with GKN’s supplier base. GKN is not better than its “Supply Chain”. Unless they deliver on time, the right quality and the right price, GKN will not succeed.
Do you have any other wisdom words you want to send to our readers? There are many old dragons on GKN. Do not be afraid to ask them for advice. They gladly share their wisdom.
Time passes by quickly and the fall is soon overtaken by the winter cold. Other than me freezing in the quiet mornings, also some things has happened at GKN Aerospace in Trollhättan; we have had not one, but two visits the past week!
I can start off by winding the clock back to the previous Monday; all of us graduate engineers are gathered in a cozy car early in the morning, with smiles on our faces despite no morning coffee. We were on our way to Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery in Trollhättan, where we met Kim Halvorsen who is the site manager and in charge of operations. In addition, four other graduate engineers from another Siemens site (Finspång) were also there! The visit started off with an intriguing presentation by Kim, who helped us understand their on-site operations, products as well as organization and their history. Moreover, Kim continued to show us the actual workshop along with their key processes and operations in producing their products, which is mainly stationary gas turbines. There is a lot to mention here, but to say the least, many aspects of the site was impressive – spanning from huge machines to detailed work by hand.
After our visit during the morning, the graduates from Siemens continued to join us back to GKN site for some lunch, and due to them being able to carry themselves in lunch-conversation well enough, the Siemens graduates could remain within the premises. We held presentations about GKN and our organization and site, as well as a guided tour by us around the workshops – after which, we finished the visit the only way we know how to; with fika.
But the visits did not stop there. Later in the week we also got a visit by two classes from Strömstad High School. Wednesday afternoon, we graduates were met by 15 happy pupils and two enthusiastic teachers. The entire day was then onwards characterized by tricky questions and interesting thoughts by the visitors, as well as lively presentations and several workshop tours by us graduates, in which also finally resulted in a (very) raspy voiced Philip. But the visit was great, and we graduates also learnt a lot from the pupils and their teachers.
Well then, time to stop writing and start working 🙂
Half of the time at my home department Rotors have passed. At this department, GKN develops turbines for Europe’s rocket program Ariane. Apart from constantly delivering components for Europes current rocket program Ariane 5, my department develops and prepares components for the upcoming Ariane 6, with first launch planed 2020, and the project PROMETHEUS, as described below. Since I false started my time at GKN in June already, I had already been at this department for a few months when I started the graduate program.
Earlier this summer I was involved in a pre-study within the PROMETHEUS-project. This French owned and newly started project has the goal to develop a methane driven rocket. Like all other space related projects, the PROMETHEUS project has a forced abbreviation that sounds ”Precursor Reusable Oxygen METHan cost Effective engine”. You keep wonder, what happened to the ”U” and the ”S”? My part of the project involved investigating initial design concepts and estimate how reasonable our customers technical requirements are. Very exciting task!
After the initial training weeks of the graduate program, I returned to my home department and started working within the Vinci-project. Within the Vinci-project GKN is responsible for both design and production for both turbines in Ariane 6’s first and second stage engines called Vulcain 2.1 and Vinci. The turbines provides power to drive the engine’s two fuel pumps, used for devlivering high pressurized fuel to the engines combustion chamber. Unlike the PROMETHEUS-project, Vinci is in a qualification phase where we as turbine providers must show that our product fulfils the engines technical specification. The qualification phase involves tight collaboration between production, testing engineers and CAE-analysts. My role within the project deals with prediction of turbine performance as a function of production deviations. Interesting!
PS. How do you organize a space party? You planet!