Erik Åstrand's cutting-edge expertise in welding is used, among other things, in Volvo CE's production of articulated haulers. Photo: Volvo CE
The requirements for strong, reliable and durable welds are extremely strict for articulated haulers, wheel loaders and other construction machinery used for heavy loads. Volvo CE in Braås invests heavily in product and production development.
“We gave Erik Åstrand the opportunity to work with us as an externally employed doctoral student to develop cutting-edge competence in welding. We consider this a long-term and important investment in strengthening our company’s competitiveness,” says Andreas Ulvagården, who served as Åstrand’s supervisor at Volvo CE.
“Erik’s research has enabled us to make major strides in developing our production methods and in our design work. As a result, we can produce superior products today more efficiently and cost-effectively,” says Andreas.
Erik had already been employed at Volvo CE’s manufacturing engineering department a few years prior to his being offered the placement as an externally employed doctoral student.
“It was, of course, advantageous already being familiar with the technical challenges of welding when I began my research. As an externally employed doctoral student, I was afforded the time to study and identify problems and to explore these issues in depth. It was a privilege to be able to do that,” says Erik Åstrand.
For Erik, the challenge was striking a balance between his research and the day-to-day work at Volvo CE.
“Alternating between two different tasks can be a little tricky. However, it is also a great advantage to be able to conduct research near the production environment since I could easily test new, innovative ideas in the factory,” says Erik.
Erik’s work resulted in the introduction of a new welding standard for the company. Welding is complicated and requirements on producibility, customer demands, product lifespan, financial aspects and more must all be considered and met to achieve the best solution.
Today, Erik is the company’s global welding specialist. He runs development projects together with colleagues both in Braås and at production units in other countries.
“Doctoral studies provided me with a great deal of knowledge and, above all, experiences that I benefit from immensely as I continue my work. It has also allowed me to build up a valuable network within academia, other industrial companies and research institutes.”