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Digitalisation along Elkem’s value chain

Trainee Blog 12.12.2022

I have just started my third and final trainee period in Elkem. During my first two rotations I was fortunate to experience how it is to work in different divisions in Elkem – from a dusty and rushing working life in an over 60-year-old plant in Mo I Rana to working in a brand-new Research and Innovation centre in St. Fonts. In this blog post I will tell briefly about my tasks at work and how I experienced to live at the different places.

I must admit, after never having been further north in Norway than Værnes (the airport of Trondheim, somewhat in the middle of Norway) I was a little bit nervous when I found out that my first rotation as a Trainee was in Mo i Rana. However, I look back at those 8 months with joy and excitement, and I couldn’t ask for a better start to my work life!

In Mo i Rana I was able to follow the daily work life at a plant where I learned about the furnace process, most of the sub processes in the plant and how we are working in each system. My main tasks were focused on different digitalisation projects – either by updating existing software or implementing new sensors to  gain more reliable, robust and informative data from the furnace. I found the tasks interesting, and I felt that I could contribute from the beginning!

My main role for the projects were to follow and plan them as the project leader. I really enjoyed being given so much responsibility from early on, and I am grateful that my mentor trusted me with this task. My experience with project management before Mo i Rana was non-existing, making the task and role a little bit out of my zone of comfort. However, I was never alone and I was backed up by skilled and supportive co-workers, which made it a good experience anyhow!

Figure 1: To the left; Me posing at a look out point over the tapping are.

To the right; Molten FeSi poured from a ladle into a cooling bed.

Mo I Rana was so much more than only work. I was lucky enough to get to know some of the persons from “Kandidat Helgeland”. They have an arrangement where several trainees move to Helgeland and start working there as trainees. Because of that, I met people in the same situation as myself, making the life outside of work great! Also, the beautiful nature close to Mo i Rana makes the city a great place  for mountain hiking – one of my favourite activities.

Figure 2: To the left; The summit of Smaltinden.

To the right; Full moon randonee trip in “Pudderdalen”.

After my 8 months in Mo i Rana, I packed my bag and moved to Lyon to work in the Elkem Silicone Division. Here I worked at the new Research and Innovation centre called Atrion, which was a big difference from what I experienced in Mo. Elkem Silicones is more chemistry oriented than what I experienced Elkem to be in the Silicon Product division. But having limited knowledge of chemistry and the fact that I do not speak French made me nervous for how this would go. Looking back, there was no need to be nervous thanks to my great colleagues, who were supportive and helpful.

At Atrion I worked as a member of a group with the objective of digitalizing the reporting of results from the labs. It is a three-year long project, and I was there only for the first six months. This gave me insight into how to organize such big project, combined with knowledge about how they are working in the different labs. This knowledge was used in the project to make the platform more human oriented, meaning it should be as easy as possible for the persons here to use the system without changing to much of how they do their jobs. I am looking forward to see how good the platform will be eventually when it is deployed to all 300 technicians and engineers in the Silicone division!

Going to a big city like Lyon gives opportunities to explore things you don’t usually do in Norway. Luckily for me, I went to Lyon with one other trainee in Elkem, Andreas. He had already been living in Lyon during some of his studies and he was a great travel companion and guide for exploring the city of Lyon. Besides enjoying everything that the culinary capitol of Europe had to offer, we also did some traveling to the Alps, Annecy, Geneva, Paris and to vineyards around Lyon.

Figure 3: Some friends visiting from Norway.

Figure 4: Andreas and I before our farewell dinner at L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges – my best culinary experience of all time.

Figure 5: Football match in Lyon.

Figure 6: Andreas and I at the top of Aiguille du Midi (3842moh) with Mount Blanc in the background. Sadly, we cheated and took the gondola the entire way up.

Figure 7: Hike to La Tournette, looking at Annecy and Europe's cleanest lake.

Figure 8: Seeing a Tour de France stage up the famous Alpe d'Huez. Off course from the Norwegian corner.

Looking back at my first two rotations, I am very glad that I got such a good overview of Elkem and its value chain. I’m fortunate for everything that I have experienced and are looking forward to my last rotation in Elkem Technology and their Advanced Process Control group!