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Our experts out in the world

Business trip over the sea and back

Jan Andersson, GKN Driveline, and Jari Jylli, Cimcorp OyCimcorp heads to StockholmComponents arrive for installation at GKN plant

When our project manager Jari Jylli boards a Turku-Stockholm cruise ship, it’s usually for business rather than pleasure. He has a packed day of negotiations with a customer ahead

6.00 Arrival in Stockholm

The journey began the previous evening in Turku. The night on the ferry passed peacefully. In the morning we drive the car off the ship and head for Köping, a town of 25,000 inhabitants. Köping is a port, even though it is situated in the center of Sweden and is about a two-hour drive from Stockholm. The project management team of 2-3 people is on the trip, often accompanied by a sales manager.

We drive to our customer GKN’s plant. GKN designs driveline products for the automotive industry. We have supplied the same plant with several assembly lines on a turnkey basis. That means we act as the systems integrator, and the delivery has to include all the equipment required to start up production.

8.30 Meeting in Köping

We start the meeting and go through items concerning the ongoing project. I am the project manager on this project, in other words I am responsible for the overall delivery and liaise with the customer.

These kinds of assembly line projects are always tailored according to the pieces to be assembled and customer requirements. They demand extremely close collaboration with both the customer and the subcontractors, but above all within our project team, starting right from the sales stage.

After the sales stage, we work closely with the customer to find the final concept. In this case concept means a detailed operational description that defines all the work steps for each operator and piece of equipment.

The determining factors for the concept are the cycle time and technical challenges. The gear system components are measured to an accuracy of a thousandth of a millimeter, which places great demands on the whole line.

12.00 Lunch

We go to eat at the cafeteria next to the plant with the customer. The food is traditional Swedish home cooking: this time it is boiled potatoes, baked salmon and a green salad. After lunch the meeting continues, and we go through matters related to previous projects we have supplied.

As far as project management is concerned, the most demanding part of my work is project schedule management. This is made particularly challenging by change requests during the project implementation stage, which often come from changes in the final assembled product. Normally, modifications have to be carried out so that the overall schedule remains the same.

Good cooperation between all parties is an essential condition for meeting these demands. The systematic documentation and logging of what has been agreed is crucial for both sides, because there are so many changes. Changes may occur throughout the project, and even afterwards when the line has already been installed and is operational.

15.00 Plant tour

We go to have a look at the points of change or repair requests on previously installed lines and talk to people we know working there. They also give us some feedback.

In the last three years there has been continuous cooperation between the customer and the project team. Earlier I spent several weeks in Sweden during installation and commissioning, but recently my trips have been negotiation visits of a couple of days.

On projects, we usually have two full-time project managers, one a mechanical expert and the other a control specialist. My responsibility is the control side, which includes coordination of electrical and software design from equipment specification up to the final start-up trip.

17.00 Set off on return journey

We go back to Stockholm and drive on to the evening ferry. A certain pattern has evolved for ferry crossings, which we usually routinely follow. First of all, we always have a beer and talk over the events of the day. Then we go shopping in the duty free shop and have a salad or something light for supper in the familiar restaurant. The current projects will continue until spring 2014, so there are more ferry trips coming up.

Finns and Swedes are fairly similar, so cooperation has been seamless from the start, which is a great thing. Only the hockey world championships in May caused some needling on both sides – depending on which country’s team is doing better.

TEXT: ANNA KORPI-KYYNY PHOTOS: ARTO HELIN, SHUTTERSTOCK

Key elements for success

  • Change management in the implementation phase of the project

  • Keeping to the original schedules

  • Active liaison with the customer and subcontractors