Having quickly adapted to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures from the Danish Government, the Alfa Laval PureBallast factory continues to meet global production demands – and has even surpassed expectations
Aalborg in Denmark is the main production facility for Alfa Laval’s PureBallast 3 ballast water treatment system. Denmark, like the rest of Scandinavia (except for Sweden) has been in strict lockdown since the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic became evident. It was expected that ballast water treatment system production would be curtailed or at least severely reduced, but as Alfa Laval head of PureBallast Peter Sahlén explained, this has not been the case.
“While the world has slowed down, the implementation of the ballast water management convention remains unchanged,” said Mr Sahlén, “We simply must continue meeting our customers’ needs, regardless of the obstacles.”
With many orders in place, those obstacles have been large indeed. The Aalborg facility normally bustles with manufacturing teams, customers, class society representatives and visitors. Nevertheless, Alfa Laval is securing customer deliveries, even with far fewer people on the factory floor.
Alfa Laval’s approach has been a combination of rapid response and innovative thinking. The company took swift action to implement protective measures for employees, but also to secure components and materials that would be needed in the coming months. When the Danish Government imposed a lockdown on 11 March, the factory in Aalborg was well prepared.
“We moved quickly from two shifts to three shifts, working in smaller teams that can easily maintain a safe distance,” said Alfa Laval’s factory manager Søren Nord Larsen, “There’s no contact between shifts. So, if one of our workers should be infected, we can lift the entire shift out without impacting the others or any customer deliveries.”
Even meals and breaks are taken individually, at different times. Tools are carefully handled and disinfected regularly, and support functions like purchasing and production planning are managed digitally to the greatest extent possible.
“It’s tough to change so quickly and dramatically, but colleagues have really taken the situation with a positive attitude and adapted to the new routines,” said Mr Larsen. “Many come with their own ideas for improving things, because everyone wants this to happen for our customers.”
The success of these efforts is remarkable, as Alfa Laval has managed to increase production during the same period. “We’ve proven that this can be done, and we’re not simply maintaining the status quo,” said Mr Larsen. “In March we set a record of 400 systems produced for the quarter, and our deliveries for the quarter were yet another all-time high.”
For Mr Sahlén, the high productivity in Aalborg builds on Alfa Laval’s long-term planning. “We’ve made extensive preparations for ramp-up in the last two years, and that readiness has served us well in this unusual situation,” he said. “We already had a systematic overview and allocated resources, which made it easier to recalibrate. Together with our customers we will make it through this situation – and our production will be even stronger on the other side.”
BALLAST WATER WEBINAR WEEK
Beginning 18 May we will be holding a series of daily webinars, each meticulously researched and organised in response to a present ballast water related challenge, headache or opportunity. The webinars are free to attend and are designed to strike the right balance between transmission of key information and interaction with the expert panel assembled.
Should you wish to join one of our expert panels please contact Paul Dowling on firstname.lastname@example.org