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23 Feb

Good thing they did not seal the deal

Datum: 2012-02-23 11:00

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.