ALUMINUM PARTS AND READY-MADE BOAT HULLS
Projects create pressure
One cannot immediately guess all of the steps that lie behind the painted surfaces, the upholstery and the treatment of bare aluminum in a finished boat. A boat consists of numerous details, small and big, all of which someone has designed, drawn or ordered, built or installed, welded, painted, screwed on and glued on.
Furthermore, somebody must have led and coordinated all of the work listed above.
It is not easy. One is always either busy or really busy. Multiple projects are underway at the same time. There are deadlines that must be met and which are inevitably approaching. And the closer the final launching of a boat gets, harder gets the pressure on the workers’ shoulders as well, as the last phase of the project is being undertaken.
The foundation for the project is built in the beginning
The beginning phase of a boat-building project is carried along with the project until the very end phase. One of the people who is trusted with the process and who carries the weight on his shoulders is the leader-in-chief of the aluminum -department, Mika Kainu.
He is responsible for, especially, that the ready-drawn aluminum parts (from which a boat’s hull and cabin are welded together) are ordered on time, and that the welding-work is initiated at a proper time, and that the hull along with other parts of a boat are finished on time. A busy project manager may turn to Mika for assistance at the end phase of a project.
All of the welders at Kewatec are experts who have acquired the vocational degree and certificates necessary for doing the work. Mika is still responsible for all the work that goes on in the welding hall and that the entire process of building a boat is successful.
Ensuring the high quality of the welding-work is not merely a moral question since there are actual regulations that control the process. The firmness of the welded seams is tested via non-destructive testing with penetrant liquids. And some of the seams are scanned for finding potential defects.
All of this is of course dictated by the protocol. The inspection records must be in order and included in the papers that are transferred to the customer as a guarantee of the boat’s high quality.
And these are exactly the papers that the project manager asks for from Mika, in case the records have not, for some reason, been added on top of the stack of papers. These papers are sorted out right before the transfer, to collect the content of the maps and digital records that are transferred to the customer later on.
This is also how the foundation for the work, built by the head of the aluminum -department, Mika, carries on with the process even in the end phase. Indeed, even a well-appointed boat would bring no joy to the customer, only harm, if the boat leaked due to poor welding!
Wide-ranging and motivating, yet a difficult job
The welding-process itself requires creativity from both the workers and the ones leading the work. That is indeed the highlight of Mika’s work for him, but also one of its difficulties.
“I like the versatility of my job. The projects never replicate themselves. It keeps my mind sharp.”, says Mika.
“On the other hand, that is one of the job’s biggest challenges. We make, nearly constantly, boat prototypes, new models which require new solutions on top of old and familiar ones. These are not always planned out thoroughly, so instead they need to be negotiated on the spot.”
That is that – the different departments in Kewatec do not work nor cannot work separately from one another. Sometimes welding is still needed at the installation hall. At that particular phase of the project, the department of design is still involved in the process too.
“We have here, however, a great community of workers. I enjoy being a part of it and I enjoy my job as well.”, Mika says. And in that Mika is responsible for drawing up a schedule for the work, purchasing materials for the aluminum -department, drawing up a list of work to be done, documentation of the work, conducting required inspections and other things among that. The job is versatile, like Mika says.
Mika’s journey to Kewatec
There is nothing unusual about the fact that Mika does not have schooling that would have directly led him to his current job at Kewatec.
“I left vocational school as a certified plumber. However, I did completely different type of work after coming home from the army. At first, I worked as a truck-driver for my father’s logistics company, so I mainly drove loads of foodstuff back and forth between my hometown Veteli and Helsinki.”
Mika’s subsequent job might have indicated that Mika would someday be working at Kewatec:
“For a couple of years, I worked for Scanfil Oy in their factory in Vantaa, where I was the person in charge of assigning shifts at the department of zinc coating and galvanization.”
Mika gathered more work experience, as he left behind the traffic jams of the capital city area, and joined the company Tullis Oy as a welder. This company manufactures equipment for specialist haulage. Mika spent approximately a year there. And then came his turn to come to Kewatec.
“I came here in the year 2002. It was probably some kind of an appealing newspaper-ad that got me to apply for a job at Kewatec. It was, however, a long time ago that I do not have a clear recollection of what I was thinking back then.”, Mika says.
From inland to building boats
Rather than focusing on vehicles that move on land, Mika has been, for long, building equipment dedicated to moving around on the sea and on rivers.
“Being raised inland, I do not have any connections to the sea, however.” The distance from Veteli (where Mika was born and still lives with his family) to the coast is long.
Mika continues: “Fishing was an active hobby for me at one time. We had a center console boat, which we took to inland lakes and we spun sometimes even for the sake of competition amongst us.”
A full family-life with children
Mika sold his boat later on. “When we were blessed with kids, I did not have time for fishing anymore.”
With his wife Johanna, Mika has three children, out of whom the oldest is 13 years old and the youngest is six years old. All of the children do sports, such as football, orienteering, track and field and they also have other hobbies. These hobbies for sure keep the dad busy on his freetime. “Although I still do orienteering myself, at night.”, Mika says.
Running on forest trails and hustling around at work
An orienteerer needs to not only find the control points but also to run: he must keep up the haste. It is however a different kind of haste, as opposed to another type, which Mika would gladly get rid of:
“There is a feeling of continuous hurry at work. I wish it did not have to be like that. But that might be up to me, actually.”
Could it be so? Kewatec has recently experienced a powerful company growth. It has impacted the everyday-life of the head of the aluminum department.
The hurry does bring work to those who want it. And Mika does not have a difficulty in recommending Kewatec as a workplace:
“Feel free to just try things out! A long work experience is not necessarily needed. Being positive and motivated is enough.”
And Mika for sure is familiar with that way of going about things. It has led him to become the head of many different things at Kewatec.