Time to go back to university, not only once but twice


It has been one year and a summer holiday since all three 2nd year trainees graduated from the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. This fall it was time to return to other universities to learn more about an Elkem specific topic, at the Elkem University, and more about how we can improve the way we do business in Elkem, during the EBS University.

The blog post was written by Benedicte Eikeland Nilssen, 2nd year trainee in Elkem, currently working at the R&D department in the Silicon Material division in Trondheim.

Part of the deal of being a technical trainee in Elkem is the training, and the blogging. Why not combine both and describe some of the courses a technical trainee in Elkem attends. Regarding the training, there is not so much the first year, it is mostly happening in the second year, and for me especially during this fall. One week with Elkem University, and one week with EBS University, and all three 2nd year trainees together – a fall filled with new knowledge and acquaintances. Not that often we trainees see each other, so Lise and Raghed, really nice to get to spend two whole weeks together with you! Enough chitchat, what knowledge do you actually learn at Elkem University, and what is really EBS, you might think? See below to find some answers.

Elkem University – get insight at a theoretical level

In September, several Elkem employees gathered for almost one week at a hotel in Kristiansand, for networking, socializing, sharing experiences, and increase our knowledge about this year topic for Elkem University, the post tap hole operations. At both silicon and ferro silicon plants that means all operations starting with the furnace tapping hole, and ending when the finished goods in container or big bags leave the plant. I had the pleasure of spending my first eight months at Elkem Thamshavn, working mostly with the refining step, which is one of many post tap hole operations. In addition to refining and alloying in order to obtain the right chemistry, for a silicon plant post tap hole operations mean: tapping of liquid silicon into a ladle, casting and solidification of the liquid silicon to obtain right macroscopic structure, followed by crushing and sieving steps. Check out the figure below, might be easier to understand!

 Schematic illustration of a silicon plant, pointing out the post tap hole operations, which were the topics at the Elkem University.

So, in addition to lectures in thermodynamic principles, modelling of the tapping process, and getting an overview of some of the different crushing technologies, the participants were informed about the Elkem strategy, requirements for the PTH operations and the potentials. All in all to gain a better understanding of the fundamental principles of what is happening at a scientific level in the post tap hole operations in order to improve the operations, realize our potentials, and meet our goals in the Elkem strategy.

Again, picture of the 2nd year trainees taken the last day of the University. All a little tired after a week with lots of new information and knowledge, but also motivated to start using the knowledge in our everyday work.

EBS University – learn and practice the Elkem Business System

In the end of October, it was again time to head for the south and the sea, this time Lindesnes. People with so many different nationalities where gathered, to get to meet and greet, and learn more about EBS – the Elkem Business System.

In short terms, EBS is about improving the customer satisfaction, by securing the excellence in EHS, delivery, quality and cost. All operations we do in Elkem are based on the four fundamental principles of EBS – make to use, empowered people, eliminate waste, processes in control. You can find more information about EBS here. 

The four fundamental principles in the EBS.

There is always possibilities to improve the way we work, and the EBS University is such an arena where you get to learn more about the different tools, concepts, methodologies, etc. included in EBS. There are plenty to choose from! Might hear a little frightening, but let us say, it is all about working structured and see the people around you. :) During the week we got it all presented in more details during various lectures. Of course we as participant had to contribute, and for the coaching part, which I found very interesting, some of us had to be the guinea pig and do the acting. We also got to use EBS in practice, a very important part of the training. It was a real challenge, but in a fun way! By “in practice” I mean a production simulation with Lego and field training at Elkem Fiskå.

All-in-all another week with boost for the upcoming work tasks.

 We all graduated from the EBS University. Got diplomas and of course had to take the mandatory “trow-the-hat-in-the-air-picture”, this time the diploma edition.