What the chain professor says about his advisory role in ABAB’s progress
They say that he knows more about ANAB’s machines than ANAB does. He is known as the Chain professor in the trade, and after a long interview about the history and innovation of the forestry industry, froma chain-sharpening perspective, therecan be no doubtabout the significance of Kalix inhabitant 72-year-old Rolf Gustafsson to thesuccesscan be no doubtof ANAB.
For 40 years he has made his living on chain sharpening. Over and above his own sharpening business, it is the evening telephone conversations with ANAB boss Anders Nilsson that keeps the inexhaustible source of knowledge, Rolf Gustafsson from Kalix, in the game.
“I have never let go of a chain that has even one bad tooth. It’s all about concentration and attention to detail. When I have fine-tuned the machine and everything goes like clock-work, it’s still a pure delight even after almost four decades in the trade,” says 72-year-old Gustafsson when we meet him during one of his many visits to ANAB in Ås.
Gustafsson and Nilsson have followed each other along parallel tracks in different business ventures since the 80s.
“In those days I took care of 60% of all the chain sharpening in Sweden via the companies Skog och Alltjänst i Edsbyn and Himlinge Skogsservice. It involved enormous volumes all the way from Skåne in the south to Åre in the north.”
Even though the sharpening of the chain is one of the most important factors affecting productivity for a multi-million harvester, it wasn’t until just before the year 2000 that sharpening machine product development really took off.
“Product development in the forestry industry was very slow for a long time, but the rules changed with the advent of automatic sharpening machines in the mid-80s. The systems switched from pneumatic to electronic operation in 1995. ANAB then sped up development from 2000 onwards. Even then, people thought that the company had a high rate of innovation, but that was nothing compared to what has happened in there in the last two years,” says Gusafsson, in testimony to all the current activity at ANAB.
Markus Byström joined as a programmer in 2015 and Sima Brunner took on the role of engineer last year. Rolf Gustafsson can’t praise the duo enough.
“With Byström, ANAB is unique worldwide in having their own in-house programmer, companies usually buy in those services from outside. He is a huge asset and a key reason for the fast lead times from idea to finished prototype. Sima has the ability to see solutions in his head even before they are designed in the computer. I’m convinced that there are thoughts and ideas inside him that will drive progress in the industry for many years to come.”
When Gustafsson continues to talk about the future, it is inevitable that automation comes up. The robust quality that ANAB already delivers, together with automation of the current manual systems could open up new markets for the company.
“The next phase in automation at ANAB, which is already in development, is the production of CBN wheels. Instead of purchasing from China and South Africa, wheel production could take place here in-house, and all the machines sold could continue to run on ANABs CBN wheels, constructed for and adapted to ANAB’s machines. Many people currently buy sharpening machines from ANAB but get their wheels from other manufacturers. The next stage is to automate the operating system. Already today, the machines are made up of the most durable components, which means that they could handle round-the-clock operation. If we start to talk about picker robots and that kind of automation, the machines could even become interesting for the manufacturing industries, taking ANAB to a much wider marketplace than where it is today.”
The Chain professor is now 72 years old and his passion for the art of sharpening still burns brightly.
“During recent times I have “helped out” at another sharpening company. But I’m actually in the early phase of starting up for myself again. Sharpening takes up a lot of my time, including something like three evening conversations a week with Anders Nilsson and a couple of visits here to the ANAB premises regularly. From my professional perspective, there are few things that measure up to a perfectly sharpened machine chain,” says Gustafsson.