United for one project
Together we’re stronger and achieve even more impressive results. And as the 185X campaign is winding down, we wanted to finish off the anniversary year by showcasing some of our awesome teams. This story is about one of them.
Small teams can be agile. And so can larger teams. But small teams cannot build power plants on their own – but they can join together forming big teams that can.
With his 28 years of experience with Wärtsilä, Marko Koivula knows this well and needed no instructions when he got another interesting power plant project in his hands. The case was fascinating as it was the first-ever project to demonstrate Wärtsilä’s flexible power generation capabilities and at the same time, it introduced a new product, Wärtsilä 50 SG (pure gas) engine, to the markets. This unique project scope provided an opportunity to create a completely new way of working, a more seamless collaboration across functions: R&D, energy business teams, technical and field services, sourcing and quality colleagues as well as engine experts in Wärtsilä’s Trieste factory.
The project required combining expertise areas like never before, and although Marko had built an extensive people network in Wärtsilä, it was a challenge even for him to find the right person for each role, “I know quite a lot of experts and contacted them based on the different skills that were needed in the project.”
One of the key people Marko on-boarded early was Tuomas Kuusisto, who had previously worked at power plants around the globe. “I had already moved on to other tasks in Wärtsilä, when one day while enjoying my coffee, I was asked to be the Commissioning Manager in this new project,” Tuomas tells. Since Tuomas has always enjoyed challenges, he and his superior arranged so that Tuomas could grab the opportunity offered.
Soon after, Tuomas and Marko visited Wärtsilä’s Trieste factory, where they began to understand not only the beauty but the complexity of the project. It became clear they had still plenty of open questions. But firmly relying on Marko’s networks, the duo recruited more Wärtsilä experts to solve these questions with them.
Things were progressing but even this – knowing the right people and mobilising them – wasn’t enough. Marko needed to ensure they share a determination to make things happen. “It was one of the turning points when all the key people were recruited for the project’s support function, and they understood what needs to be done. Suddenly, we had a unified engine – this team – driving the project forward,” Marko describes.
Kenneth Haapa, based in Turku, was one of these teammates recruited. “I didn’t have other options but to join Marko’s team,” Kenneth tells humorously. “As it’s my responsibility to give technical support for all Wärtsilä 50 SG engines, I was automatically part of the gang. And I still am, as the support continues throughout the engine lifecycle,” Kenneth tells. Kenneth even participated in the engine development phase visiting his Trieste colleagues who fine-tuned the engines for customer requests.
“There is always special excitement to work with new products,” tells Marco Dal Ben, who took care of upgrading the engines’ automation systems. “You have to be ready for surprises even if the upgraded products are simply improved versions of the previous model.”
Making things happen together
Projects are often months of intensive work with a clear start and end date. The same applied here; the support function was established in January 2018 and the commissioning plan was ready in February when some support team members travelled to the site. The commissioning team was built right after, and the whole project was completed in June when new teams, such as warranty colleagues, took over. And the commissioning team was freed to new projects – some of them continued working together in a new project, but not all as the mix of people is never the exact same in two projects.
When the project life span is only months, and there are 30 teammates in different locations, one wonders what glues these people together. According to Petri Niemelä, this team’s glue was a shared goal; even if coming from different functions and locations, all the teammates wanted to get the project ready and the customer satisfied.
As Marko was coordinating the support function, it was then Tuomas’ task to bridge the support team to the site employees, and all the way to the customer. “I must give kudos to Tuomas – not only the way he kept us informed but how he kept the customer up-to-date; telling just the right amount of information,” Christer Järf tells. Tuomas admits that his openness built the trust – as he kept the customer informed, rest of the team could focus on reaching the goal: having the plant ready in time.
In the end, this goal was exceeded as the plant started operations ahead of schedule. It was purely thanks to the attitude and flexibility in the team; the days at the site were long, but the local team kept up their motivation by enjoying small daily moments, such as morning coffee together. “You could sense how people appreciated being in this project together. Everyone got motivated by seeing the competence and commitment of others,” Marko describes.
Although, the entire team never had such joint coffee moments or face-to-face meetings – but people still felt the closeness. And as Luca Zubin, from Energy Business Operations, believes that feeling helped the team make things better and faster: “Sharing these kinds of major project experiences together brings people close. And I’ll most likely turn to these people also later even if there are persons who I’ve never met in person – I just know the names of these teammates.”
Winning the Customer Care Award
With 30 teammates, you’d think it’s impossible for everyone to agree on the most memorable day during the project. However, the winner is clear: it was the day when the engines were turned on successfully for the first time. “It was like a deep breath after a long dive,” Enrico describes.
“Another important moment took place when we got the full output from the power plant for the first time. And thirdly, the day when all the tests were passed. There is always a major feeling of tension and then relief connected to these days – that’s why they are so remarkable in all power plant projects,” Tuomas adds and lets Marko continue, “I also remember when the customer said thank you. That’s always the best recognition”.
Talking about awards, the team even won Wärtsilä’s internal Customer Care Award in 2019. As the way of working in the project itself was an innovation and provided clear business benefit for the customer, Petri knew already before submitting the application that the team had a good chance of winning the award. “Wärtsilä has been customer-focused for years already, but with this project, we made it clear that Wärtsilä has turned more agile,” he says.
Now, the new operating principle and lessons learnt during the project will be applied to new cases, and the extensive team setup will hopefully become a standard in every power plant project. Enrico Orlandini, Senior Product Improvement Engineer, feels there were also multiple personal learnings he can take with him to new projects. “I believe my personal skills developed in various aspects: behavioural, technical, managerial and human. Now, I know more how things should be done, managed and communicated. This project increased my trust in our company’s potential – as I got to work with many great colleagues. I owe them all a thank you,” he tells.
Now, the team has dispersed – but the sentiment among the former teammates is still high. After all, they can be proud for their accomplishment for a long time to come.
"We could be heroes, just for this one project,” Luigi says cheerfully where Enrico adds on, “Yes – I feel we got to be heroes for this project. And I believe that many other projects wait for us to be heroes again.”
Congratulations to the entire team for accomplishing such a customer-focused and innovative project as well as for winning Wärtsilä’s remarkable Customer Care Award: Kenneth Haapa, Marko Koivula, Luigi Loschi, Christer Järf, Matias Palmujoki, Luca Zubin, Luca Ravara, Kimmo Nuormala, Marco Dal Ben, Antti Melamies, Tommy Lindvall, Enrico Orlandini, Kai Koski, Tuomas Kuusisto, Horacio Gutierrez, Al Ibay, Jukka Karppi, Jose Toscano, Marcus Wallinvirta, Boubacar Zama, Sauli Hurnanen, Krister Murto, Toni Huovinen, Andreas Holmqvist, Anders Ståhlgård, Kenneth Hägg, Anna Jarowicz, Jens Appel, Alessandro Zorn and Rommel Laudato.