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Career story: Ilkka Kaipainen

Career story: Ilkka Kaipainen

How to keep projects profitable and in schedule – ask the project engineer

In summer 2013 Ilkka Kaipainen worked long days at a construction site. At the same time the mechanical engineering graduate was looking for a topic for his thesis. It wasn’t long until another summer help employee suggested that he look into the opportunities available at the Kilpilahti industrial estate in Porvoo, Southern Finland.

There were companies definitely worth contacting.

Said and done – Bilfinger Industrial Services offered Kaipainen a subject for his thesis, which he then started preparing for the Mechanical Services unit. The thesis goes by the name “Quality requirements of EN
1090 and its management with welding quality control system.”

The EU-initiated construction product directive and the resulting CE marking entered into force in Finland in 2014.

Thesis completed with Bilfinger’s support

Thanks to Kaipainen’s thesis, Bilfinger now has a clear view on how to develop its ways of working so that they meet with the EN 1090 demands: the use of ISO 3834-2 standard in pressure piping should be applied to the manufacture of steel structures, too. Kaipainen’s thesis also addressed the manufacture of Bilfinger’s main products – metallic industrial pipes – and quality control on a general level and in welding in particular.

"I familiarized myself with Bilfinger’s quality control methods, carried out surveys and interviewed the personnel. As the experts were close-by and the demand for my work clear, the thesis came about quickly", says Kaipainen. Completing it took only five months.

"When I finished my degree, Bilfinger offered me a permanent position. I didn’t have to think twice. The company is full of professionals who know what they’re doing and why. Business comes first. I’m quite a straightforward kind of a person and when I do something, I give it 100 percent."

A project engineer works together with welding coordinators, project managers and supervisors.

"One of my main tasks is offer calculation, which means working together with project managers to find out in what time a customer’s order can be completed, what resources are needed, what is the overall cost and what’s the bottom line for us." In addition, Kaipainen takes part in the project planning and documentation.

Kaipainen has been with Bilfinger for over a year now.

Offer calculation quickly, accurately and without error

"The most challenging aspect of my work is scheduling. As I prepare an offer for one project, at the same time I should also complete the final documentation of the previous project. Projects land on my desk in rapid succession and even the slightest error in cost estimates or materials needs means a delay. At worst, the delays have an impact on both finished projects and those that are currently ongoing", Kaipainen says.

What helps is that whenever there’s a question or an unclear issue, there is also a colleague close-by and ready to assist.

"We have the option to work remotely but I’d rather work so that I can talk to people face-to-face. There are some conflicting elements in a project engineer’s job: on one hand, it requires a lot of independent work, on the other hand, you need constantly to interact with your colleagues. Sometimes it’s hard to balance in between these two modes."

Kaipainen says that offer calculation is, to a significant extent, routine work. However, sometimes out-of-the-box thinking trumps everything else.

"One time we were preparing a plan on how to install insulation attachment systems on a storage tank roof. We already had a ready-made plan but after some tinkering with the specifications, we found a less expensive solution for the customer."

In Kaipainen’s view, there was never any doubt about the career choice.

"I’ve always enjoyed science and maths. Initially I thought about studying technical physics and mathematics, but thanks to its practical nature, mechanical engineering took the upper hand."

Career story about Ilkka Kaipainen