Their degree project won in Maryland

Engineering students Victor Wessén and Fredrik Bergendal did their degree project long-distance together with two students from the University of Maryland. At the beginning of May, they went over there to present it on-site – and brought home the university’s prize for best project.
It is two happy but somewhat jet-lagged men who have just returned to Norrköping after a hectic week in the United States. In competition with eleven other groups, their project won the Outstanding Capstone Award at the University of Maryland.

“The jury thought we had the best communication with our company and that our recommendations were properly grounded in the logistics and LEAN principles we based our work on,” Mr Wessén explains.

Communications, Transport and Society engineering

Mr Wessén and Mr Bergendal are in the third year of the Communications, Transport, and Society engineering programme, (abbreviated KTS in Swedish). The trip was the culmination of their degree project, which has been in progress since January. Together with two students at UMD, they developed a logistics solution for Intralox, a company that manufactures large conveyor belts for industries such as automobiles and foodstuffs.

“Incoming deliveries to their factory in Maryland come in on large loading billets. There’s a lot of packaging, and unpacking them is tremendously time-consuming. We took on the problem and looked at solutions,” Mr Wessén says.

He and Mr Bergendal carried out the entire project long-distance from Sweden, via e-mail and Skype conferences with the American students and the company. It was a big challenge.

“Familiarizing yourself with how the factory is built, based only on a pile of photos, wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. It would have been ten times easier to be on site,” Mr Wessén continues.

Close to reality

With their different skills – Mr Wessén’s and Mr Bergendal’s knowledge of logistics and the American engineering students’ expertise in machine design and programming – they put together a proposal that involves replacing the factory’s loading billets with an entirely new transport vehicle that reduces the amount of packaging and, in addition, can be used throughout production. Intralox though the solution was so interesting that they’re now having a number of these vehicles manufactured and will run practical tests.

“That’s what’s so cool; it seems as if our proposal could be realised,” Mr Bergendal says.

Both he and Mr Wessén think that the project has been enormously useful, precisely because it was so close to reality and they got to cooperate long-distance with another team.

“It felt like this was the real thing; maybe we’ll be working like this when we get out into working life. I think it’s given us self-confidence,” Mr Bergendal says.

“Yes, the project was in line with our education. The overall picture of logistics that you get in the programme really came in handy,” Mr Wessén adds.

Act as consultants

The project was carried out as part of UMD’s QUEST programme, in which students from various programmes are brought together and act as consultants to solve actual business problems. In addition to Mr Wessén’s and Mr Bergendal’s project, the exchange also involved a “Swedish” project for the company Norrköping Vatten och Avfall.

Clas Rydergren, head of KTS, says that the institution has long had research cooperation with UMD. This led to an invitation to exchanges, which turned out to be possible to combine with degree projects. He hopes that the cooperation can continue and increase in the future.

Picture at top: Fredrik Bergendal, Shmuel Gold, Andrew Dicken and Victor Wessén during the presentation of the project.

Text: Jonathan Pakvis
Photo: Christian Jenkins