A production site one could only dream about

Imagine a production site where oil and dirt is all over the place, with no need for technical expertise and filled with un-empowered employees. The Gripen Production site we visited embodied the complete opposite! When we found out we were going to spend four weeks in Gripen production, we had no idea how amazed we would be after four incredibly fun weeks.

Björn who is employed at Marketing and Sales and I, Therése, with employment at Strategic Sourcing, both of us within Aeronautics, did our first rotation together. Gripen Production in Linköping consists of four types of workshops and we spent a week in each one of them. This means that we got to visit a new workshop every week and learn about the different processes in the different stages of completion. During this period of time, we got to try out so many different things, here are some examples to name a few:

  • Build our own miniature model of the Gripen Fighter
  • Dress in protection clothes and paint Gripen parts
  • Assemble parts of Gripen using bolts, rivets and sealants (Yes we have actually built Gripen aircrafts)
  • Visit an hangar to explore and sit in a B17 (The first aircraft manufactured by Saab)
  • Visit Saab’s old underground workshop, called “Berget”

 

Figure 1: We got to dress in protection clothes in order to try painting Gripen parts.

We started in the Detail Manufacturing workshop where they make important tools especially designed in order to construct the Gripen Fighter Jet. This might sound trivial, but let me remind you that these tools aren’t just any tools. They are a crucial part in the production of Gripen, grinded with diamond sharpening discs to make them as precise as needed to be, with an allowed margin of error of one thousandth of a millimetre. To give you an idea of how small of a margin this is, a human hair is about one tenth of a millimetre. These tools were then passed on to the next workshop, the Component Manufacturing workshop, where the tools were used to create various parts for the Gripen. Since the production process of Gripen is structured as a chain of sub-workshops, the parts made in the component manufacturing workshop were then put together in the Structure Assembly workshop and lastly passed on to the Final Assembly workshop, which is the last step in production before we deliver to our customer.

While in the Structure Assembly workshop, Elin who is employed at Support & Services within Gripen Support joined me and Björn for the two final weeks in production. Depending on our individual schedules and where we are in the world, we can arrange the rotations together. Personally, I think this rotation was so much fun together with Björn and Elin. Not just for the company and great fun of it; but also because we had three different perspectives, therefore asking different types of questions and in that way learning more information and knowledge.

 

Figure 2: Here’s Björn, me and Elin on the wing of the fabulous aircraft B17.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that what impressed us most is the amount of knowledge and experience that our colleagues in production possesses. They have an amount of knowledge that I couldn’t gather in a lifetime. Whoever or whenever we asked tricky, and sometimes trivial, questions they always had an answer - and a thorough one as well! So a huge thank you to all of you amazing people that we met during this period of time, for the most inspiring four weeks ever!

 

/Therése