Galvatek opens gateway to US aviation industry remotely
June 09th 2021
Despite the prevailing coronavirus pandemic John Cockerill’s Finish Surface Treatment specialist, Galvatek delivered a Chemical Cleaning Line and a Stripping Line to the US aviation industry – on schedule and on budget. While the pandemic caused twists and turns along the way, all obstacles were cleared by the amazing dedication of John Cockerill’s Finish team. Very importantly, the highly automated surface treatment lines opened an important gateway into the US market for John Cockerill’s Surface Treatment Division and its MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul) expert, Galvatek.
The supply contract for the two surface treatment lines for the United States was signed shortly before the coronavirus outbreak, in autumn 2019. The Galvatek team was able to attend two physical project meetings before travel was suspended due to the pandemic in early 2020.
After that, meetings were held remotely every two weeks. “Communication with the client was not easy, as due to security reasons they were not allowed to use any remote meeting software. Also because of the pandemic it took us three months and a lot of help from our client to be able to apply for visas from two different US embassies,” says Project Manager Teemu Tiainen.
The medium size Chemical Cleaning Line is used to clean auxiliary power units of military aircrafts in connection with scheduled maintenance. The plant supplied by Galvatek is fully automated, but also allows to perform cleaning manually. The plant is equipped with 3D lifting equipment and Candovent ventilation. An advanced process ventilation equipment supplied by Galvatek’s sister company and French air pollution control specialist, John Cockerill Europe Environnement.
In the United States local plant suppliers are usually favoured. As such, the client’s existing surface treatment plant was supplied by a local manufacture but is considered by the client to be unreliable and dangerous. But when no suitable plant supplier for the new plant could be found in the United States, the client selected Galvatek as one of the worldwide leading suppliers of this type of equipment.
Half-year business trip
The plants were manufactured in Poland and the Czech Republic in 2020. Traveling between the Czech Republic and Finland was challenging, but still possible. But John Cockerill’s team encountered real travel difficulties with traveling to the United States when the coronavirus pandemic was at its worst.
“Because of ever-changing travel restrictions, I was not able to travel back-and-forth. I had to stay in the United States for six months. At the same time, I was not allowed to remain in the country for more than half a year due to work permits, taxation and other such matters. In addition, I had to spend Christmas in the US, but of course I stayed in touch with my family via today’s modern communication tools,” says Site Manager Alec Holmström.
For the Chemical Cleaning Line, an installation team was sent from the Czech Republic and assisted by local technicians and a representative of Galvatek’s US importer, DAES. The smaller Stripping Line was practically set up by a local installation team with the help of Galvatek’s remote support and advice.
In the end, the treatment plants were delivered on budget and on schedule. It took a year and three months from order to delivery. While the trial runs and the handover of the lines were delayed by one month, as testing and commissioning was done partially remotely, the client had the facility ready for operation three months before they had planned to start their production.
A satisfied client
The client was impressed by John Cockerill’s commitment and ability to keep the initial schedule regardless of the pandemic. “Our teams from Finland and the Czech Republic have shown a high degree of flexibility. They came up with creative solutions to overcome the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic and enabled the on-time delivery. The deliveries of these two Surface Treatment Lines were very important to us, as they opened an important gateway to the US market for our Group’s Surface Treatment business. Of course, we have previously delivered plants around the world, including to US companies, but it is the first time that we delivered directly to the United States itself,” says Galvatek’s Managing Director Jarno Virtanen.
Coping with the coronavirus pandemic led to new ways of working and highlighted the need to meticulously prepare all the components for the plant before delivery, as well as to test them and to provide high-quality installation instructions. Thanks to these lessons learnt, plant deliveries for future plants and lines can now be handled even more efficiently by John Cockerill’s Surface Treatment teams.