Operations and Maintenance Technician Pia: With planning and teamwork, we give energy to Hudiksvall

18th June 2024
Articles General

My name is Pia Dahlkvist and I have been working as an Operation and Maintenance Technician in Hudiksvall since 2020. Together with my 12 colleagues, I am responsible for producing district heating for the residents of Hudiksvall, Iggesund, Delsbo, Sörforsa and Friggesund.

I spend most of my working time at the site in Hudiksvall, a city located along the Swedish shore of the Bothnian Sea. I myself live in Delsbo, a 30-minute drive west of “Hudik”. Any big cross-country fan would perhaps know Delsbo for raising stars such as Jörgen Brink and Ebba Andersson. I have been interested in skiing, I rather spend my free time with my horses.

Followed my dream – and interest in technology

In a way, the journey into the energy sector began already 25 years ago. That’s when I made the decision to follow my dream and move from Stockholm to Delsbo where I as a child had spent many nice summers with my grandmother. The interest in technology has always been there and once in place in my new hometown, I started working as a quality manager at a small company that, among other things, was an equipment supplier to Ericsson. The next stop on my journey was the candle factory, where I worked as an operator.

After many years of fun and rewarding work, I decided to pursue an education in automation. When I was done with my studies, an acquaintance recommended me of Adven, a smaller company with a great variety of tasks, it was said. And the rest is history!

The energy plant in Hudiksvall is significantly smaller than the candle factory in terms of the number of employees. However, it is one of Adven’s largest in Sweden and there is always something new to learn here.

Every morning, we put together a “puzzle”

The day always starts with me and my colleagues planning for how we will run the plant. This means, for example, that we decide how to run the boiler based on an estimated demand for heat, outdoor temperature, available fuels and the price of electricity. We also decide whether to charge or collect heat from the “mountain” – a large under-ground accumulator that we built a few years ago to make our production even more effective. It acts as a giant battery and can keep heat to cover up to five weeks. Together we put together a puzzle and plan for the day. There are also big differences over the course of a day, and demand is often high in the mornings when all Hudiksvall residents wake up and need to shower. Then we have to increase the capacity!

One plus one equals three

Every day is unique and new situations always arise. Therefore, we work a lot with documenting in our systems, making quick reference guides and instructions to make it easier for the future.

Sharing your mistakes is important in our work – so that we don’t have to make them again. All my colleagues have different skills and experiences and when we put our wise heads together, we solve most things!

The goal: slow and steady at work

As a horse girl and a forest owner, I’m used to working hard. But despite that, in my daily job, there are still some tasks that require us to be several people who work together. For example, when we last had to replace our 70-metre-long conveyor belt. A heavy and warm teamwork!

As a person, I’m very methodical. Although part of the work is to handle alarms – more or less acute ones – I thrive best when I have time to plan, execute and evaluate. Our goal is for the work to be slow and steady, which happens when production is running smooth based on our plans, and the customers get the heat they need. Then there is time to do preventive maintenance, or, since I am responsible for the chemical management at the site, I can also mix and do inventory linked to that.

On the days I’m in charge of the control room, I usually “take it with me” via an iPad in my pocket while I do other things. I find it very difficult to sit still and enjoy doing things very hands-on and seeing concrete results of my work.

Those of us who work with operation and maintenance also take turns patrolling the smaller facilities in our area three days a week; Delsbo, Friggesund, Sörforsa and Iggesund. They are unmanned and do not require the manual work that the boiler in Hudiksvall does. Rounds include looking, smelling and listening to see that the facility is working properly. We also read the meters to see that the delivery to the district heating network is stable.

The trick to re-energizing

In the summer, we stop the boiler for revision and maintenance. This period means a lot of work for us at the site, which means we have to gather some new energy in advance. Therefore, we usually enjoy a nice barbecue together at the facility.

The “party committee” here in Hudiksvall also organizes common dinner parties, and in the autumn we will do a site visit at one of our “sibling facilities” in Mora. It will be fun and we are looking forward to learning a lot. Since the site in Hudiksvall always need to be staffed, we may have to compete to see who has to stay at home and produce energy for others – when the rest of us is gathering new!

We believe it is important to celebrate things together. Here, our new fuel storage area was inaugurated, which was built to be able to receive more fuel and more types of fuel. We currently have 7 different sorts in Hudiksvall and handle everything from cuttings and bark to residual products from the paper producer Holmen in Iggesund.