For me this summer is very much about getting a sense of what it is like to work at Scania. Therefore I have arranged many study visits at different Scania factories and departments, as well as lunch meetings with Scania employees to learn about their experiences from within the company. These events all provide me with puzzle pieces that, when put together, help me clarify whether a job at Scania is something for me or not.
One major breakthrough in this endeavor was the week I got to spend down at the bus assembly line. I am very fortunate for this opportunity because production is generally not part of the SSI-program. My practice week there was only accomplished due to my specific summer job placement. I am so glad for this experience because industrial manufacturing is the aim of my studies and I have been hoping to get some production experience before graduating.
The first two days of my factory visit I spent following a bus chassis in the making. From insert of the first bolts to final rust treatment of the assembled vehicle before it was driven out in the yard for shipment to a customer. I have been told that sometimes following a chassis like this is part of the training that new designer recruits get to do at Scania. I can see why because it really improved my understanding of the product. Now I know how the articles that I usually see on my computer screen all day actually come together to form a working bus.
The rest of the week I got to follow a production engineer and a process engineer in their daily work. The difference between these two positions is that one of them focuses on solving problems connected to the product that is being assembled and the other one focuses on the surroundings, e.g. power tools and handling equipment. It was fun and exciting but sometimes a little stressful too. I particularly liked it when they send me off on my own little missions, drawing in one hand and a slide gauge in the other.
It is clear that people who work close to production have a different perspective on time than the ones who work with R & D. In production it is a matter of always keeping the assembly line up and running by solving random problems. Every second counts! For people working with R & D, however, their projects are generally more aimed towards the future and therefore it is more like weeks and months that count instead.
What I liked most with working in the factory was the familiar atmosphere among the employees. It felt like they all, both assembly line workers and managers, were engaged in a team effort. Then of course it was a real treat for me to see all the cool machinery and power tools they used, not to mention the assembled bus itself. With this experience added to my Scania puzzle the picture is getting clearer, and I must say I like what I see.
The summer job part of the SSI-program is soon over. Next week will be my last here in Södertälje – this time around. I will be back next spring to write my master’s thesis. Left for me to do now is to finish my summer job assignment and to continue my search for an interesting master’s thesis topic.
The SSI-program continues!
All the best,