Ove Ronny Haraldsen
+47 99 15 59 20
In KONGSBERG some of the most exciting technological developments in Norway are taking place. In this report K-magazine has visited some of the most closely guarded places both inside and outside the fences of Kongsberg Technology Park.
Our tour started in the lower section of the technology park, near the waterfall where Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk’s first buildings were erected in 1814. We were going to take a look inside the actual EMC chamber, or chambers since there are two of them. Here we met engineers Per-Ole Sætren and Erik Øverbye Olsen, both specialists in the field of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).
Their job is to bombard the products with electromagnetic beams. Their tools include an impressive array of antennas. And two EMC chambers. One in which the walls absorb radio waves and one where the radio waves are free to ricochet and produce electromagnetic chaos. “All products that emit electromagnetic radiation must be compatible and not interfere with each other. The EMC chambers help us ensure that each product satisfies current EMC requirements,” says Per-Ole Sætren.
The world’s most advanced sea target missile is produced in the building next to the EMC chamber. The assembly hall contains row upon row of missiles. This is where the jet motors, seeker heads, altimeters and other high-tech devices are fitted into the missile. Runar Andersen then gave us a tour of the missile plant’s clean room. There was a definite sense of entering a laboratory as we pulled on white coats and hair nets.
This is where both the NSM’s homing device and altimeter are manufactured, which enable the missile to cruise directly above the crests of the waves. He introduced us to Lasse Sten Pettersen, who was working on one of the NSM’s homing devices.
The object is totally unfathomable for an outsider. Small, gilded mirrors, spherical metal components, a sort of spiral and something that looks like a printed circuit board. “Precision, concentration and quality are paramount when working with missiles. We can’t afford errors,” explains Runar Andersen, the head of department.
From the lower section of the technology park, the tour moved up to the mountain - to “The Crowns in Håvet“. Here there is no doubt that the mountain in Kongsberg (“the King’s mountain“) belongs to the King. The tradition of carving the monograms of visiting regents into the mountainside started when King Frederik IV visited in 1704.
The monograms and years of previous visits were added at the same time. The Crowns in Håvet - the King’s mountain - is almost the symbol of the mountain city of Kongsberg, and has been reproduced on innumerable postcards and travel guides throughout the years.
From the old city, K-magazine`s tour moved on to the Arsenal, about 5 kilometres from the city centre. A 30,000 square metre factory hall was built here in 2008. The Arsenal has become a favourite venue when Kongsberg Defence Systems presents what it has been doing in Kongsberg. A guided tour here leaves you with no doubt that Kongsberg is Norway’s technology capital. KONGSBERG produces parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Arsenalet.
Enormous machines mill components used in the fighter jet’s rudder. Composite is cut out by laser and shaped into aircraft components that are hardened in two towering kilns. Then it is on to quality control. Ever since gunsmiths stood filing the muzzles of the Krag/Jørgensen rifle, precision down to the micrometre level has of course been a necessity. Before aircraft and missile components leave the factory they are inspected using ultrasonic sound, radiography and computer power in order to live up to our international partners’ extreme quality requirements.
Kongsberg Maritime’s headquarters, Carpus, lies down by the banks of the Lågen river. The name is Latin for wrist. In a wing that constitutes one of the buildings five ‘fingers’ we find “The Virtual Collaboration Room“. This more than anything else illustrates the global organisation that Kongsberg Maritime has grown into. When someone calls Kongsberg Maritime for help, that call is answered, no matter what the time is.
The room in Carpus is one of three high-tech support centres in Europe, America and Asia. When the day ends in Singapore, Kongsberg takes over before passing the baton on to New Orleans eight hours later. “In here sit experts on all of the major product groups Kongsberg Maritime supplies. Whether it’s about dynamic positioning or drilling, we have someone who can handle the case,” explains Jørn Mastervik, who heads Kongsberg Maritime’s global customer support.
Our guided tour of Kongsberg ends where it started. In the heart of the old Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk – in other words Kapteinhaugen. Here the arms factory’s soul permeates the walls. The manor was designed and built by Captain Johan Maximillian Gran Paaske in 1902. Kapteinhaugen is now used as a residence for entertaining. It hosts board meetings and executive management meetings, and is used to welcome ministers, royalty and other VIP guests. In the background stands May Sørensen – Kapteinhaugen’s long-serving hostess and coordinator.
It is she who arranges for fresh flowers at the entrance, lights in all the rooms, and the maintenance required to keep the more than a century old residence presentable. In the grand hall, the manor’s builder, Paaske, watches us from his place on the wall. In 2014, KONGSBERG inhabits a totally different world to the one in which then Director Paaske allowed himself to be preserved for posterity in his stiff uniform. However, some things have not changed in 200 years. The words Determined, Innovative, Collaborative and Reliable define the same core values on which Norway’s first factory on the banks of the Lågen river was founded on 20 March 1814.