Sammet’s legacy of quality continues
Toni Mutikainen, Sammet’s Quality Control Manager, has just returned to Jyväskylä from a two-day inspection visit in Türi, Estonia. The visit was momentous because it is the first since the retirement of Kalju Preimer, who was in charge of quality control in Estonia for almost three decades. With such deep historical ties, the close connection cultivated over many years has made a significant transition seem seamless. Despite the handover, Sammet’s commitment to quality remains business as usual.
“Kalju has taught me a lot about this work. My job is now to take the reins and maintain the high standards he established”, reflects Mutikainen, who joined Sammet in 2012. Since commencing his career as a damper designer, Mutikainen has progressed to the quality control department where he now manages inspections in Estonia, Poland and Finland. He credits his design background with solidifying his reputation as an excellent quality control professional. “Quality control requires a comprehensive understanding about dampers, standards, tolerances and welding quality. You also need a sharp eye and co-operation skills to work with technical and operations teams”, he explains.
Given the complexity of the task, Mutikainen confirms that quality control expertise is gained largely through on-the-job training. “It’s quite different seeing completed dampers at the workshop, as opposed to drawings on a computer screen. With experience, the eye becomes accustomed to identifying key elements that need attention”, he says. Mutikainen also relies on soft skills to maintain the strong, collaborative relationships which have been established over the last three decades. “You have to pay attention to technical details but you also need to work closely and respectfully with the workshop employees,” states Mutikainen. “The Sammet way of working in partnership is ingrained in everything we do”, he adds.
Ensuring product quality through factory acceptance tests
A factory acceptance test (FAT) is an integral element to quality control. It helps verify that newly manufactured products meet their intended purpose and comply with customer requirements. A FAT is a seal of quality that comes with every Sammet damper. An inspection and test plan (ITP) is prepared and adjusted during the manufacturing process, resulting in a clear testing strategy. “Our factory acceptance testing procedure is the final step in verifying all the quality work performed during the entire production process”, says Mutikainen.
“I am always looking for new ideas and developments which Sammet and our partners can translate into innovative products and services for our customers."
Each damper is inspected in accordance with a strict protocol and Sammet’s own fastidious attention to detail. Inspection times vary depending on the damper size, but each damper inspection typically takes about half an hour. Mutikainen keenly shares some of the steps he performs. “First the type plate is checked to ensure it has the proper markings and that the position codes given by the customers are correct. These indicate the exact position where they will eventually be installed”, he states. “I then check that the damper and actuator correspond to the design drawings and ensure that the components are in place and properly fastened”. Inspections of the key components occur through spot checks, when Mutikainen ensures that they are within the allowed tolerances and that customers can easily install the damper.
Sammet’s quality inspections are always conducted in partnership with an employee of the manufacturing plant. “We all have a commitment to quality and the mindset to maintain the standards set”, says Mutikainen. One benefit of joint checks is that if the factory acceptance test identifies anything that needs correcting, it is generally rectified immediately. If this is not practical, the corrections are recorded and then carried out later. Once a repair has been completed, Mutikainen receives confirmation of it in writing, along with a photo.
In addition to quality, a key priority for Sammet is safety. Mutikainen checks the safety features of the actuators. During a test run he ensures that the damper works properly, the tightness is within the acceptable tolerances and that the limit switches have been properly assembled. Test runs also guarantee that all product parts are packaged together for delivery to the customer. Other tasks Mutikainen performs including ensuring damper bearings have been greased, visually inspecting the welding quality and paint job, and uploading the details, including documentation and photos, into Sammet’s quality control system. “Record keeping is important to track the quality control process and can, if necessary, confirm the product’s condition at the time of leaving the plant. This is important because we can identify any issues in the unlikely event that something should happen to the product during transportation or installation”, explains Mutikainen.
Promoting quality at every stage
Quality control at Sammet goes beyond factory acceptance testing. It includes continuous auditing of suppliers, capacity monitoring, ensuring safety issues, and constant dialogue with employees in all of Sammet’s manufacturing plants. Mutikainen says that one of the more enjoyable aspects of this role is supporting the designers and workshop employees. “I enjoy listening to all the technical and operational discussions that occur”, he says enthusiastically.
Mutikainen’s open communication style allows him to gather valuable information during all stages of production and quality control testing. “I am always looking for new ideas and developments which Sammet and our partners can translate into innovative products and services for our customers”, he reveals. Typical of all Sammet employees, customer satisfaction is in his nature.
Sammet’s comprehensive focus on quality is aimed at fulfilling customer needs and ensuring they receive exactly what they ordered. A long-standing policy at Sammet is welcoming customers to inspect their products when they wish. “We invite customers to observe the production and inspection of their dampers so they can see how we work to meet their every requirement”, Mutikainen says. This transparency is a cornerstone of Sammet’s commitment to ensuring that only quality products and services are delivered to customers..