I held a course at Siemens Turbomachinery last week, in a department which runs projects concerned with gas turbine maintenance. As the group was gathering prior to the course, I spoke to Rikard. He told me the fascinating story of how the gas turbine production in Finspång came to be.
If I understood him correctly, this is what happened:
The Swedish air force commissioned the Swedish Turbine-factory Limited Company Ljungström (abbreviated STAL in Swedish) to develop jet-engines for airplanes in the forties. They were very successful in their endeavor, but when the time came for mass-production of the engines, the Swedish air force chose a British engine instead.
So there STAL is left standing with an engine which took years to design and construct, and which hasn’t got a single buyer. And what do you do when you happen to have a jet-engine to spare? Well, you leave it on the ground and turn it into a gas turbine.
And the rest is history. Today, Siemens Turbomachinery employs 2800 people in Finspång and has an annual turnover of about 10 million Swedish kronor (including the efforts of the steam-turbine division).
The worst and the best outcomes from a single event
I can easily imagine the disappointment they all felt when the air force announced that they would be purchasing and producing the British engines instead. They probably felt as if the rug had been tugged from under their feet, and that this was the worst possible scenario and outcome.
What fascinates me is how truly difficult, if not to say impossible, it is to determine what will be regarded as a defeat in the long-run. On several occasions things have not run according to plan in my business, but when I look back at these instances in retrospect, I am often glad they did not turn out as I expected them to. If what I had hoped for initially had happened, I probably would not be where I am today. I would have been in a different situation, perhaps in a better one, that I cannot know, but I would not be right here where I am right now. And I like it just fine here.
The picture is of the Ekman School dressed in white on the early Wednesday-morning when I gave a lecture there.