My name is Elina and I'm a student from Tampere University of Technology. I've been a part of Metso's Summer Trainee program since May, and at the moment I'm working at a mobile screen assembly line here in the beautiful and historical Lokomo in Tampere.
From parts to product – the manufacturing of an ST machine
Our assembly line follows the guidelines of a traditional assembly line. The chassis is moved from station to station and each station adds components to the machine. Our technicians move along with the machine, so each finished product is made by the same people all the way from beginning to end. This makes the work that much more variable and interesting for the workers compared to some assembly lines in which the technicians only work at one station doing the same thing over and over again.
If you simplify the job description, it's somewhat like playing with enormous Legos. We start with a plain welded chassis with crawlers, add hydraulic hoses and electrical wirings, a few different conveyors, an engine, screens and so on. In reality the tasks are quite a bit more complicated than just clicking pieces together, and they do require an understanding of technical drawings and instructions, know-how on various specialized tools, the ability to perform tricky lifts on a crane etc., but the basic idea is the same. It is great fun if you enjoy getting hands-on experience like I do. I personally think every single person who plans on designing machines in the future should spend at least a bit of time actually assembling them. It truly expands your way of thinking.
Two other assembly lines in the same building prepare the engines and screens for the main assembly line. Therefore, timing truly is everything. If one of the machines is stuck waiting for parts, the entire line stands still. We actually happen to work at the oldest factory in Lokomo, established in 1915, so the space can be a bit challenging every now and then, i.e. there is not enough room to pass if one machine is blocking the line. Also this protected building of historical interest can't be altered freely. However, the work is monitored by IT systems created for this purpose, as well as by the supervisors personally, in order to ensure that the necessary components are available when needed. Thus, the line moves fluently and bottlenecks can be avoided even in a limited space. Check out what this factory used to look like back in the day of locomotives!
PS. For the ladies, I would like to encourage you not to avoid summer positions at the assembly! It is 2016 and we get treated equally, there is absolutely no reason why we couldn't do great at the job. Not to mention the fact that it's fun!