Swap to the machines in the engine plant

Software engineer Neda Nickmehr steps out of her comfort zone and goes to the engine plant in Skövde, to try out the job as machine operator. A challenge she tackles with courage. Also in-depth article about the job as machine operator at the camshaft department.

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Watch episode 5 where Tobias Ahlander tries the job as a virtual test engineer here.

 

Machine operator – The art of being meticulous

At a production rate of 23,000 units per week, the 80 camshaft machine operators at the engine plant in Skövde, Sweden, play a leading role in our efforts to put a smile on the face of Volvo drivers all over the world every time they start their engines.

“Meticulous is the key word here. When producing vital parts of the engine, we are talking about tolerances of a thousandth of a millimetre,” says Tobias Ahlander, who is head of the camshaft production at Volvo Cars Engine in Skövde.
During each shift, 20 operators ensure that 35 machines have an output of 1,200 camshafts. Since each engine needs two camshafts – one for the intake valves and another for the exhaust valves – this covers the needs of 600 new four-cylinder petrol engines.

The unit features a rough machining area where larger amounts of material are removed, preparing the camshaft for the fine machining that achieves the final dimension, tolerances and surface finish.
“As an operator you have the responsibility for one or more machines, with focus on safety, quality and delivery precision. There is no room for compromises. We carry out continuous checks to ensure that machines and tools are in perfect working condition,” Tobias explains.

Camshafts waiting to be fine tuned.

The state-of-the-art production has changed a lot since the days when lathing was a pure hands-on job. The mechanical aspect is of course still present, but today’s operators also use sophisticated computers to ensure that every camshaft passes the quality check with flying colours.
“You must have a genuine interest in technology that enables you to solve problems and improve your work continuously. But it’s also important to be a team player with the ability to support and inspire others,” says Tobias.

The team features a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some of the operators have been around since the plant started producing camshafts in the 1990s, while others joined the team recently.
Tobias, who started working for Volvo Cars in 2001, took up his supervisor position in October last year. He explains:
“After working in different areas of the complete engine production for 15 years, I felt that it was time for a new challenge. A six-month leadership training in 2016 prepared me for taking on a supervisor role, and I really enjoy working with the component production.”

Facts: Machine Operator
–   Volvo Cars Engine Skövde (VCES) develops and produces engines and components for Volvo Cars.
–   Volvo Cars has engine production units in Sweden and China.
–   It takes 80 operators to cover the four-shift production of camshafts at the plant in Skövde, Sweden. The total output is 23,000 camshafts per week.
–   The operators are responsible for running, surveying and maintaining the production equipment, with focus on quality and efficiency.

One of 80 machine operators working with camshafts in Skövde.
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