13 Dec 2018, 9:00 CET

Working as a Production Engineer at Gruvön mill

Imagine having the opportunity to run a whole factory while also working towards a more sustainable future. That is what I have been given the chance to do every day as a production engineer at Gruvön.

Hi! My name is Krister and I am a recently graduated chemical engineer and I work at Gruvön mill not that far outside of Karlstad. It has been a couple of months now since we started this incredible journey that is the trainee year. So far it has been amazing. When I look back at the places we have been, the people that we have met and all the things that we have learned already, you cannot believe it’s only been three months. Luckily for us, there are still 9 more to go.

In my position as a production engineer you work in shifts. You follow a certain schedule where you work every part of the day and every week all year round. And yes, even Christmas and midsummer’s eve. As a production engineer you supervise the whole mill production from wood logs to paper reels. You have a coordinating role where it’s a great asset to have general understanding of how process flow and machines work together with communication and social skills. The latter being something which I really have gotten to work on when I have been out in the field these first months. As someone from the Swedish west coast, I find that people up here in Värmland have a peculiar way of not pronouncing words but somehow they seem to understand one another. Just kidding of course but, it will take some time getting used to that. The shifts are divided into five teams from A-E, mine being E or “Easy company” as I prefer to see it (Band of brothers reference for those few, hopefully, who have not seen it). Every shift has two production engineers and about 95 people working in various parts of the mill, many of whom are operators, truck drivers and maintenance personnel.

A Paper reel from PM6 which will later on be used as the corrugated section in cardboard.

As a production engineer you have an office, or “master control room” if you like, from which you have a complete overview of the whole production process and everything else that goes on within the mills fences. From there we do most of our work, and that is to have continuous follow-ups with operators and maintenance personnel and delegate job-orders so that the production process will continue to run as smoothly and efficient as possible. A lot of that communication is also done on foot out in the field of production and in all the control rooms.

"The master control room”

For my part, a lot of time has just been spent on figuring out how to find my way around the place, because the place is huge! And also were all the different machines and apparatuses are, what they do and what they are called. I can easily say that I am not done with that yet. And BTW, have you ever wondered when taking a class and reading about some apparatus or process and thinking “Why in the world are we reading about this weird thingy, I will most likely not work with this” or something similar like that. Believe you me, you will encounter and work with them here and then some. The pulp and paper process is a really extraordinary in that way.

Overview of the mill from the softwood digester with the boilers seen in the background.

Next on my schedule, as for all of us trainees, is the theme shift weeks were we will work in production, something you will read more about in the post next week. But for me that means that I will work with operators in the evaporation and recovery boiler plant for the first week. The rest will be in the laboratory where I will learn how the analyze samples from all over the production process, which the nerd in me think is going to be awesome!

All the best