Weldmasters – Making the connection
In Volvo Cars’ factories, hundreds of employees work alongside state-of-the-art robots to deliver each piece of our cars. Chassis creep across the floors on moving pavements, car doors travel around the buildings on assembly lines, and side panels zip by on transport lines that crisscross the ceiling. Each piece of the puzzle is carefully tested and approved, but at some point, those pieces need to come together. This is where Weldmaster Sven vanden Eeden steps in.
Sven works at Volvo Cars in Ghent, Belgium, and is the Team leader of a group of Weldmasters at the plant. Sven and his team play a vital role in the creation of every Volvo car produced in Ghent by ensuring that every single weld spot on each car is 100% secure. In simple terms, they’re responsible for keeping the entire car in one piece.
“Our main challenge is to make sure that every one of the more than 200,000 cars we build each year has the same welding quality,” said Sven.
“It’s not always as easy as it sounds because there are many things that affect the welding quality. When we introduce new models, for example, welding parameters change, such as the pressure you need to apply.”
Though Sven has worked at Volvo Cars for 25 years, he has only been a Weldmaster Team leader for 20 months.
“To become the perfect Weldmaster you need years of experience. I may not be there yet but I’m doing my best to get there as soon as possible.”
A typical day as a Weldmaster involves monitoring all the welding parameters on the cars in production to make sure that there are no weak spots. Weldmasters also need to predict potential problems and prevent them, which means there can be no gaps in their knowledge about every component of every car. It’s a big responsibility, so Weldmasters need to have a quality mind set and nerves of steel.
“If you want to do this job you need a good nose for quality and you cannot get nervous easily. When there are issues in the factory, people depend on you to make sure that production resumes as quickly as possible,” said Sven.
Thankfully, the responsibility doesn’t just rest on one person, and the team in Ghent works closely together to support each other.
“I was given several weeks of training at the beginning,” said Sven, “and even after 20 months, I’m still learning every day from my more experienced colleagues. I applied because it looked exciting, and I haven’t had a dull moment yet!”
– In Ghent more than 1,000 cars are produced per day, each with thousands of weld spots to be checked.
– The XC60 has the most weld spots of any model, around 6,000 spots.
– There are six Weldmasters in Ghent, with two more in training.
– Weldmasters need to take an exam to test their competencies, and then are given training on the job, in courses offered at the factories, and externally. Some even go to different countries to get the best possible training.
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