Helsinki Day 4: Scissors, Axes, and Why You ALWAYS Pack the Night Before

Oh what a day. The biggest lesson learned: have a back-up alarm set. Let me back up. So, last night I was at the hotel bar working on yesterday’s blog (go read if you haven’t) until 11:15 when I went up to the room. Mind you, I’d switched to water awhile before that despite the growing number of glasses of beer around my work area – for more of THAT  story go ask Prapti, Ashley, or Marc as it’s really not mine to tell. Smilie: :-) I went upstairs and roomie Allison and I decided that we should pack up our stuff that night since we had to check out in the morning. BEST.DECISION.OF.THE.TRIP. We hadn’t been too messy so by 11:50 things were in order and it was lights out. How do I know it was 11:50? Because I double checked the alarm because I knew we were on a tight schedule and we had to be on the bus by 8am. We fell asleep right away and went off to dream land. I woke up and felt absolutely refreshed in the morning and I couldn’t believe that I was feeling so great on 6 hours of sleep or less because it had to be before my 6am alarm went off, right? WRONG!!!! OMG was that ever wrong. I look at my alarm and it says 8:03am. We were supposed to be on the bus 3 minutes ago! We shot out of bed and just started throwing on clothes and shutting bags. Not to brag, but I was on the bus by 8:10. If that’s not quick then I don’t know what is. I think it’s safe to say that from now on, we will have multiple alarms going off along with fellow classmates knocking on our doors for the rest of the trip.

Luckily the drive to our next visit, Fiskars, was quicker than expected and our delay at the hotel did not make us late to the visit.

Fiskars

Fiskars

Fiskars was a company I have only recently become acquainted with, due to the future M.I.L giving the future husband a ton of their tools for his birthday right after he bought the house, although most people know about their scissors. Fun fact: in Sweden, “Fiskars” has replaced the original Swedish word for “scissors”, similar to how “Kleenex” had become the go-to word for paper tissues. From the first moment I used their garden tools I was hooked so I was really looking forward to learning more about this company.

The lecture was interesting, though more from a design perspective than from a supply chain perspective. The gentleman was an industrial designer who was head of their R&D. We heard a lot of interesting things about how and why things are designed in a specific way but not so much about the actual process. Something I had never thought about: in order to design new gardening tools you need to actually garden, so there is a huge outdoor area where all involved in R&D go out and use all the prototypes and current tools to see what works, what doesn’t, and what are things that need to be designed. So interesting! But all the supply chain and production info: that came on the factory tour. Unfortunately, there are no cool pictures of me in safety vests BUT I was able to get one of me in these most attractive safety goggles!

Oh-So-Awesome Safety Glasses

Oh-So-Awesome Safety Glasses

What I really liked about Fiskars was that, though they did not tell us as much as we’d like to have seen, the production really seemed to be on top of things. We first moved to the foundry where we saw the ax heads being made. It was a pretty seamless process from one end to the other in the foundry. Though they may not practice just-in-time production or the most lean processes of all the factories we have seen so far, what they are doing makes sense for them. Yes, they have almost 9 days worth of products on hand but it doesn’t take them that long to actually make the products and having such a supply means that if a production line needs to be sped up or something else needs to come on line, they can easily do that.

In my head I had imagined that, of all the companies, this would be the one that would have one long production assembly line with one section doing one thing and then being conveyed onto the next. Yeah, that is not the case. Instead, each cell is responsible for a couple steps in the process, i.e, shaping, sharpening, and filing the scissors. From there, it is moved to an entirely different cell for assembly or painting or whatever is next on the list. I admit that I did not understand why certain cells were so far removed from their prior and next stops but we were also visiting many different product production areas so it might be more lean than it first appears. In any event, I really loved this factory tour and hope that the rest are as enjoyable.

Though what was my one take-away you may ask? It’s that I need a Fiskar’s ax. Seriously….the first thing I’m doing is going out and buying one of these when I get home. I feel justified in that we actually do have a need for this around the house. If you would like to know more about why, go to Google and start looking at video comparisons – it will blow you away!

Fiskar Axes: Which one to I get?

Fiskar Axes: Which one to I get?

After this, we were off to the M/S Silja Symphony, the overnight cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm. Anyone who knows me knows that Laura + Boats does not equal a good time and, true to form, as soon as the engines started and we pulled away from the dock the headache came on and the tummy got queasy. I soldiered on until midnight watching karaoke at the bar but I finally had to call it a night. I’m still up now writing this because a) it’s still so bright that my body can’t comprehend that it’s after 1am and 2) I’m still not feeling 100% and it’s preventing me from actually falling asleep. I’ve taken a sleep aid and I’m hopeful that I will soon be zonked out.

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