Today a person’s career in one company does not necessarily last for many years. However, at ALMA there are skilled staff members who have enjoyed their employment with the company for decades even. One of them is Hannu Raudasoja, who first came to the company in June 1987.
We asked Hannu a couple of questions about his career at ALMA. This period of nearly thirty years has seen many changes in terms of developments in the field of operations, technology and in the ways that business is conducted.
HOW DID YOU JOIN THE COMPANY?
I was employed by A. Ahlström in Varkaus as a programming engineer, and at the same time was working on my diploma paper in mechanical engineering at the University of Oulu. In 1986 a work colleague hinted me that his neighbour had established a company and is now looking to recruit qualified computer and programming specialists. At that time my own job duties at Ahlström were about to change, and so the time frame seemed perfect. When I started at ALMA, I was only the fourth employee of the firm.
AIM Automation and Instrumentation Management Oy, i.e. the current ALMA Consulting Oy was first created to commercialise the needs identified in the PK3 modernisation project realised at the Ahlström paper mill in Varkaus. The company was founded by Matti Nissilä and Kalervo Tervola, and Kalervo is still working at ALMA. Matti has already retired, but his son Juha Nissilä has taken charge of the company and is currently working as our CEO.
WHAT WAS LIKE TO WORK AT ALMA IN THESE EARLY YEARS?
ALMA’s first actual customer was Kemira Kokkola. It was year 1987, when I myself started with the firm. We delivered Kemira a Macintosh based plant network where any individual modification was updated for all users in real time. It was the first generation of today’s FieldALMA.
In the early years, we focussed on individual programming such as designing of the automation part or the machinery maintenance programmes. We travelled a lot around Finland, and we always drove to the customer’s facility.
In early 2000s we noticed that customers’ needs were growing and the demand for consistency of software programmes was obvious. Automation and maintenance were not seen as different areas anymore. This was the point when the company changed its course towards the newer ALMA where all data are held within one and the same system. We had a clear vision and understanding of this. So, we implemented the new technology for developing our software. This allowed us to add new features and combine them into a whole set that covered both automation and electrical parts, as well documentation management and maintenance.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB LOOK LIKE NOW?
Today we carry out a lot of integrations. Data need to be transferred from ALMA into another system, or certain data need to be brought to ALMA from elsewhere. In practice we integrate ALMA with other systems, or replace some parts of the customer’s system with it. The most obvious change in all of this is that the share of automation has grown all the time, so that people need not fulfil routine repetitive tasks or entries. The resulting benefit is that the number human errors has dropped considerably.
A big thing in my work today is that the need to travel has decreased significantly. As the product development manager, I myself visit customers’ physical facilities much less frequently. Today we meet with customers at conferences held remotely. On the other hand, everyone needs to travel less as teleconferences are indeed the way things are done today. Moreover, management of a system does not require a physical link, as maintenance and support operations for customers are carried out securely over the Internet. Troubleshooting and equipment settings can also be handled easily online. It is a huge step forward in our development, as compared with earlier years.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU AT ALMA AND IN YOUR JOB?
I am an engineer at heart and it is always exciting to develop new things and make them work.
Another aspect that I consider of equal importance is our pleasant work community. We have experts from many sub-areas and they provide reliable support for one's own endeavours. My personal skills have developed over the years, and my enthusiasm towards my job and satisfying customers’ needs has never faded. Years back I also studied some more, and graduated the Philosophy Master’s Programme of the Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius of the University of Jyväskylä in information technology.
My career at ALMA has lasted for over 30 years and is still ongoing. ALMA’s technology platform has proved to be sustainable and its life cycle is secure for many years to come. At ALMA it is possible to satisfy the needs of the life cycle management for production facilities and service processes in a unique way as early as at the preliminary planning stage. Maintenance, material management, acquisitions, mobile work, sales and property maintenance solutions can be deployed on the same platform as the planning and design. All solutions are realised by taking into consideration the needs and usage patterns of different user roles, user interfaces, as well as aspects of data security has become increasingly important today.
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