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Author: Niclas Persson

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!


Being on a journey towards something

Being on a journey towards something

Hi again

Just as the current placement is reaching its end, its soon time for the next. On my next rotation, I will spend some time within the quality department. I’m sure it will be a dear revisit to some of the fields I have currently studied and worked with in my previous summer employments.

During this week, we had another visit from some school pupils through the Topp initiative. It was a nice field visit with a facility tour, presentations and lunch.

In next week, it’s time for another activity week for the graduates. This time we will be heading for Germany for some exciting company visits. We will visit GKN Aerostructures, MTU, GKN Sinter Metals, Volkswagen and Airbus. More regarding what we saw and experienced at our visits is promised to be presented in the following posts.

Next thing on the horizon is to plan the internship abroad. It seems like all the graduates are heading to different places. Personally, I am really looking forward to this adventure and all the experiences that are sure to come with it. Most of the graduates are on the final stage of confirming their placement, and I’m sure that more information will be presented in the posts that follow in the next weeks.

Lastly, for the employees at Trollhättan: Remember to keep an eye open for all the presentations of the master thesis researches conducted at site. The graduates have successively been meeting the thesis researches through lunches and other activities. And from what I’ve heard, I’m sure there are numerous of interesting and exciting presentation pending in the next few weeks with a lot of educative conclusions and discoveries.




Made a fun reflection of the year that has passed. To finish school and enter the working life has really had a tremendous impact on the daily life. Not just from switching lectures to the office on the daily schedule, but more on the experiences that comes with it. After a quick recap, perhaps with a lack of accuracy, I calculated that I have traveled to 9 countries which resulted in a length of over 3000 metric miles. It should be added that this is not solely through work, vacation trips have added a significant share to that number. But the point is that it has created a life, so rich of experiences which I could barely imagine when a sat in the school lectures just about a year ago. So when I pack my bags for the next trip to Germany, you might wonder what rouses my excitement. I will try to answer that question by ending this post with a quotation of being on a journey towards something.


I’m not running away.

But this is one corner,

of one country, on one continent,

on one planet that’s …

never staying the same for a single millisecond.

And there is so, so much to see.

Because it goes so fast,

I’m not running away from things,

I’m running to them before they flare and fade forever” – Doctor Who

Graduate Assessment days

Graduate Assessment days

Hello again

First of all, don’t miss the addition of another one of our American colleagues’ presentations, namely Josh Bruggeman. You can find his presentation via the following link

During the last week, the assessment days for the new graduates took place on Wednesday and Thursday. We had two full days when the new candidates were allowed to visit us at the company, meet one another and undergo some different tests and exercises. It will be incredibly exciting to see who will be the new colleagues and also be a member of the next year’s set up of graduates. On Wednesday we received eminent visit when David came to participate in the assessment. Some say that it was his boundless interest in the new candidates that drove him to fly home for the day to participate in this event, while others say that it was due to a skiing holiday with the family, we will probably never know.

Another event that have shaped a lot of the last two weeks are the Training Days, and regular readers are probably familiar with the concept that this is an event where the employees of the company are able to join exciting courses to develop and learn new things. I have personally tried to go to several of the courses, mostly focused on my interest areas of quality and continuous improvement. A highlight in my opinion was a robustness course where my former tutor and mentor Peter Hammersberg participated and lectured. Personally, I thought Peter’s thoughts were very interesting and particularly one example brightened up a little extra. Peter explained a lot about the difference between symptoms and root causes when analyzing problems in our processes. One idea that is worth to revisit was the example where you can have fantastic follow up on a process, and excellent accuracy to monitor the outcome of the process for critical parameters. However, this can be completely separated from the understanding of the process underlying variation, that is, just because you have a good monitoring of a process does not necessary mean that the process is stable. In conclusion, it is the understanding of the process underlying variation and behavior that is the key to successful improvement.

This was all for this time!

A selection out of the life as a graduate

A selection out of the life as a graduate

Hello again!

One of the projects that we graduates have been involved with in the last few weeks is to support young students with their homework, in collaboration with Intize. Intize is a nonprofit organization engaged in mentoring young students in mathematics. As a part of our year project to stimulate the interest of technology and science among young students, it feels like mathematics is a given cornerstone to encourage that interest. Are you interested in joining, or do you know anyone who might be? Then all you need is to show up, everyone is welcome.

But perhaps more interesting to many of you readers, as you know it will soon be time for the assessment days for the next set of graduates. I thereby thought I should spend most of this post to tell you more about what it means to be a graduate, what you can expect and what you can experience. Those of you who follow the blog perhaps know by now that the program is consistent with different 10 weeks rotations between different departments. As the graduate program currently is 30 years old within the company, there is a lot of internal experience to handle new graduates that enters different departments. And combined with the individual responsibilities and freedom for the graduate to influence the scheme to choose their next placements, the opportunities becomes limitless. Speaking of my own experience, I was with ease able to divide my current period into two five-week periods to broaden my knowledge and internal network as much as possible

But the company’s experience of operating the graduate program also shows when you see how open and interested various managers are to meet with the graduates over interviews where they can share their experience and stories. On that subject, we recently had our second meeting with Mike McCann (CEO GKN Aerospace Engine Systems) to learn more about his experiences and viewpoints on leadership, the business, the industry etc. Or to mention another example, it took us less than two days to book 4 senior managers within manufacturing to conduct interviews. This privilege that senior managers are open to share their time in order to share their experiences and lessons learned with us is incredibly valuable. And it feels like a shortcut to valuable information that otherwise would take tremendous amount of time to obtain.

Being a graduate also opens a lot of doors externally, which implies that we have not yet received a single no when we have contacted other companies and asked them to meet for a study visit or something similar. Many times, it feels like the opportunities to create ones external network is just as good as the possibilities to create ones internal network. And with the level of advanced technology that operates within out industry, you can imagine that there are numerous actors that operates all types of different technology, which creates opportunities to learn from each other that are virtually limitless.

To spice this up a little extra, the graduates also have a yearly project which I briefly mentioned at the beginning of the post, were we interact with at least to say unexpected tasks to solve as an engineer. We also undergo leadership training, experience visits from other graduates and schools, go on business trips and external educations and much much more. So to summarize this post, the greatest challenge as a graduate is to get time to suffice, because there is always new things to do and experience. It’s thereby lucky to have driven graduate colleagues who constantly collaborate to get the calendar to get together in order to take advantage of every opportunity given to us


See you later

A period at Materials Engineering

A period at Materials Engineering

After returning from England, I have just started on my new department, namely Materials Engineering. The main focus here has been to participate in the sub-division of metallurgy, but I have had excellent opportunities to interact with the other departments as well.

My level of pre-knowledge within material science could have been better, but it has been incredible interesting to enter as a novice and have the possibility to meet all the talented specialist, try advanced equipment’s and create my own understanding over some of the analysis we conduct in-house. For every day that passes, I begin to understand more and more how important material science is within our industry, our products and our processes. This insight feels like an important contribution to broaden my perspective from the previously focus on quality and continues improvement.

In my opinion, there are many benefits of doing the rotations in the graduate scheme but I would like to highlight two of them. Firstly, its supports you to create an invaluable internal network, where you can identify different specialist and unique skillsets within the organization, which create a feeling of comfort to approach any task or challenge since you know that expertize knowledge is just a phone call away.Secondly, it allows you to get enough insight in different areas and departments to be able to understand and appreciate the value that they are creating. This was one of the points that several leaders that we have meet have highlighted. To simplify, they advocate that a key to successful leadership is about being able to understand and appreciate the value that different individuals and departments create, and how this value creation interact cross-functionally and which synergies it can create.

Lastly, don’t forget to go in and check out the presentations of the young graduates, where we recently got an additional presentation from out American colleague Nicholas Ninivaggi. You can find the presentation on the following link

Next guestpost by Neil Irwin

Next guestpost by Neil Irwin

Hello readers

Last week I was part of a study visit week to the U.K. with the AES and some of the IGP graduate trainees. The progress that has been made in lean techniques and automation in some of the sites that we visited was very impressive, and this post will be about this subject. Two sites which impressed me in this way were Luton (Aerospace, Special Products Group), and Erdington, Birmingham (Driveline).

Our colleagues in Luton manufacture cockpit windows, canopies, and de-icing systems. Of particular interest here was the takt time oriented production line. Takt time is the time between the start of production of consecutive units, when the production rate is set to match customer demand. One of the transparencies manufacturing lines was set up as a sequence of workbenches, with the duration at each station set relative to the takt time. The operators were cross trained to operate multiple stations so that there were no single point failures in the line (e.g. if operators are off sick). The visual display area next to the line had a set of vertical plastic tubes below a heading for each product. Coloured plastic balls were used to fill up these tubes on a daily basis with the status of production; red balls were used for scrapped parts, green for completed units, and other colours to denote rework etc. The number of deliveries per day required by the customer were written next to each tube. This visual display system enables the whole manufacturing community to instantly spot quality or delivery issues. Furthermore the takt line itself allows great visualization of the production value stream. Bottlenecks and stations which suffer frequent breakdowns or quality issues become immediately apparent. The eye-catching visual display system and the structure of the line improve productivity and team spirit in the operators.

The second site that captured our interest was the Driveline site in Erdington, Birmingham. Here they manufacture driveshafts, propshafts, and associated components, and assemble them to ship to large customers as diverse as JLR, Bentley and Nissan. The difference in production rates between Erdington and Trollhättan is staggering. Our weekly part production rates vary from several units to far less than one per week. The production rates in Erdington range from hundreds of units to several thousand units a week.

To facilitate flow through such a site, they have made great progress in automation. Examples of the automation employed here are robotic arms to move parts between operations, and in and out of processing operations. Other examples were highly advanced machines both in terms of speed and size. It varied between machines that could perform operations in cycle times of a few seconds, to some of the largest automatic painting machines in the entire country.

All of these systems have decreased cycle times, reduced costs, and improved quality compared to the manual alternatives.

In terms of lean implementation, there are large PVD areas with clear metrics focusing on efficiency, quality and delivery. Practical problem solving and continuous improvement activities are applied on the shop floor, with great buy in at all levels of the organization. Andon screens display delivery progress and quality issues clearly throughput the plant. The shop floor is organized for efficient throughput of the flow units. The key to the creation of this system was twofold. First, true buy-in from senior management. Second, a dedicated time slot set aside for every single worker in the plant every week to focus on CI/lean activities. I think this time dedication to improvement, is what has really facilitated the success of the facility. We were extremely impressed with the level of automation and lean implementation we saw in these sites. Although not everything we saw is applicable to us in AES, I’m sure we can learn a lot from our colleagues in SPG and driveline.

See you soon!


GKN´s Graduate program is looking for a graduate in Finance and Business control

GKN´s Graduate program is looking for a graduate in Finance and Business control

Hi again

Hopefully no one has missed that the application for the next years graduate program still is open, until the 28th of Febraury. An exciting addition for this year is that we are looking for an individual with a masters degree in business administration, economics or equivalent.

You can find the ad by following this link

To program is designed in the exact same way as the regular graduate program, which implies that you will be a member of the graduate group, participate in the same trainings, internships and a 6 month period abroad. The only difference is that your future role will be within business administration and business control.

If this sounds interesting and you´re eager to know more, then I recommend that you read some of the post from former graduate Gustav Söderberg, who made this journey last year.

An exciting time and future

An exciting time and future

Hi again

As mentioned by Emelie in the previous post, the graduates just had a few eventful days in Linköping. This was three very exciting and educative days with several highlights. For me personally, I really appreciated the discussions with Saab regarding their long term negotiations and agreements with their customers. In addition, we also meet some very talented students at the career fair Larm, who showed genuine interest in GKN Aerospace and GKN Driveline. One of the last highlights was the visit at the Swedish military base for helicopters, were we got to see some of the helicopters, but most interesting got a thorough review of the engine to an Black Hawk helicopter.

GKN och Saab Graduates
Graduates at the Swedish military helicopter base
GKN at Larm

Time is starting to reach its end at my second department, fabrication. The most developing has been a project I’ve been driving to enhance the way we work with process control and quality improvements of our processes. Simplified, this project has consisted of different adjustments in our way of working to visualize data to highlight the variation in our processes in order to illuminate the causing root causes. This simplifies the work for us to identify and eliminate variation on our processes, resulting in predictable robust processes. A fun observation I have made after working with this is that those lessons I gained through the acquisition of a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma is just as useful and applicable if you work in Supply chain with suppliers, or in production with wide improvement projects. The beauty of this is in my opinion that one doesn’t need to be a detailed expert in a specific area to be able to work with improvements, the key to success is rather to follow certain universal methodologies to systematically break down and visualize the problem in a way that allows the problem to be less intangible.

To finalize this post, I give you a few examples of some of the things that will happen in the upcoming weeks, perhaps fun for you readers who right now consider to apply for the graduate program, whose application is open until February 28. Today, me and Emelie will conduct a lecture for all thesis workers within the company about how it is to be a graduate, followed by a dinner later in the evening. There will also be a longer meeting with CEO Mike McCann and the graduates. Next week will be the last at my current department, so I will try to close all lose ends and start to hand over tasks and projects to my colleagues. This is followed by the England trip with exciting company visits, as well as the first meeting with our American graduate colleagues. After returning from England, the Swedish graduates will have a two-day leadership training before I start my new period of Materials Lab. That week ends with a school visit here at the company when Lyrfågel-school’s 6th grade will visit.

See you soon!


Charm 7-8 February 2017

Charm 7-8 February 2017

Hopefully, nobody has missed that GKN Aerospace is visiting Chalmers career fair – Charm!

Its high time to apply for the next year graduate program, so come and visit us and bring as much questions as you can. On place, we have both current and old graduates who will help you to answer all your questions. They will try to help you with all your thoughts and concerns. They can also tell you a lot about the company and all the different ways that are going to be working at a company in one of the coolest industries!

See you there!

ABB´s graduates visiting

ABB´s graduates visiting


Last Friday, we had an nice visit of the young graduates at ABB from Ludvika. It’s very fun to meet other young graduates that are in a similar situation as oneself, to discuss and exploit each other’s experiences and learnings.

ABB´s Graduates visiting

At their visit, we presented ourselves to each other, our companies and businesses, and also the scheme for our graduate programs. There were several similarities, but also some interesting differences which felt developing to discuss as it supported to develop a broader view of how we utilize the graduate programs in different ways. Afterwards, we got to participate in an interesting presentation about GKN Aerospace´s strategies and market we operate within. This was followed by a shop floor tour in the manufacturing facilities to present some of the products we manufacture here in Trollhättan.

To be a young graduate and have this possibility to meet different people feels very valuable, as one can continuously expand once national and international network. I am confident that this network will be highly valuable for my future career. Are you interested to also create one of these networks? Then you hopefully know that it’s time to apply for the young graduate program starting next autumn.

What happens this week you may wonder, and how does a regular week look for a young graduate? Well for me, this week starts with meeting and interacting with students in a junior high school here in Trollhättan to talk about technology driven occupations. This is followed with two courses I will attend within GKN, one about blisks and one of negotiation techniques. In addition I will also participate in a few internal interview meetings with some of interesting people within the organization. Furthermore I will meet with some people and try to plan the next intern period, and which learnings and assignments we hope to achieve. In parallel to this, I will continue to work with some of the projects I am involved within, so there is a lot to attend to – the pedometer in the mobile continues to tick on. It’s almost as if you don’t need to utilize the free fitness center available for all employees, but how can you pass out on that when some of the gym classes are held by our young graduate colleague and national team runner Andreas?

Keep following the blog, and I will promise you that soon it’s time for our British graduate colleague Neil to write another guest post.