Orion’s automation department has a wide range of responsibilities, and the main reason for the variety of tasks is, of course, the operating environment, i.e. the pharmaceutical factory.
"We have a lot of different systems, machines and equipment, involving a wide range of techniques and technologies. This means there’s a real need for talent in this field, and we have been growing rapidly in recent years,” says Antti-Ville Piirainen, Head of Automation.
He points out that Orion provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the pharmaceutical industry: no prior knowledge of the sector is required, as comprehensive orientation is always provided.
“For example, I think Orion’s Phase1 trainee programme is a great concept. People at the beginning of their careers will get to know us and Orion in general and say, ‘This is a fun job’.”
The automation department is involved in many things
The automation department naturally oversees the conventional process and machine automation integral to pharmaceutical production. This includes tasks like equipment commissioning, maintenance, problem prevention, and day-to-day support. In addition, the department’s experts are constantly developing operations and involved in project planning – they also do hands-on work, such as PLC programming and system configuration.
One important area of responsibility is the management of the several information systems used in pharmaceutical production, such as serialisation and condition monitoring. In these systems, at least one element reaches all the way to the pharmaceutical production processes, and support should come from close to the shop floor, from professionals who know the processes and operations.
The automation department is also responsible for managing the electrical work in production, and a large part of the department’s personnel are electrical professionals.
Diversity and different strengths are a big plus
Due to the extensive scope of responsibilities within the automation department, a diverse range of skills is essential.
“Of course, you have to be interested in technology and engineering and development, but perhaps the most important quality is knowing how to find information and being able to communicate with other people on your own initiative,” Antti-Ville Piirainen says.
The department places a high value on diversity, welcoming individuals with different backgrounds and personalities. In task and duty planning, everyone's strengths are considered; those interested in project coordination are given opportunities, while others can delve into specific details.
“As our team expands, individuals also have the chance to specialize. It is more efficient and makes more sense to have people focus on specific areas, rather than having everyone generically doing everything,” says Piirainen.
By investing in in-house expertise, Orion also builds valuable competitive advantage in global markets.
Innovation inspires the whole team
In recent years, the automation department has grown to its current size of around 35 people. The people in the department have themselves been involved in defining the kind of department they want to work in.
“We are an innovative, reliable, responsible and cooperative team,” says Piirainen, describing the profile they have created together.
“In practice, this means that we are an energetic and diverse group of individuals, constantly striving to improve our operations and staying on the cutting edge of new technologies.”
It’s easier to cope when you work together
While the essence of the job is the opportunity to develop technology and to improve professionally at the same time, the automation department also wants to ensure that the inspiring work does not consume an excessively large slice of life, and that the work remains meaningful and the working environment pleasant.
“We’ve made it a policy to avoid long working days, to dedicate weekends to rest and to reduce business travel. We aim for zero accidents and zero burnout cases per year," Piirainen says.
It is also important for well-being that things are genuinely done together.
“We have four teams in the department, but there are no barriers or silos. We want to be one big automation team.”