From China to Uvdal

Varmebehandling av knivblad

When UMF hired a new quality engineer, it was Kenneth who won the title. Now he has settled in, and he enjoys his new work place.

– I hadn’t heard of UMF before, but I am impressed by the high-tech level the factory represents. Not just any factory can deal with the type of tasks we deal with. It is clearly a stamp of quality, says Kenneth.

UMF is based on solid and valuable knowledge. There are examples where we have come up with innovative solutions to problems that have seemed intractable. We do undoubtingly have a tradition of setting the bar high and stretching accordingly.

Kenneth, quality engineer

One must always strive for perfection

Those who know Kenneth know that he is concerned with quality. He lives by the principle that higher quality leads to higher trust. In his work as a quality engineer, this means that he has high ambitions for the production. Not only is he concerned with closely following up on deviation management. It is also important for him to think preventively.

– Ideally, we should find latent deviations before they become deviations, or at least find the reason why they occur and ensure that similar deviations do not occur in the future. After all, quality is not just about handling the problems after they occur. It is even more important to be proactive and ensure that errors do not occur in the first place. There is a lot of responsibility in such a position, but it is a necessary responsibility, Kenneth says with emphasis.

Fearless type with a heart for the local community

Not everyone would feel comfortable taking on such a big responsibility, but Kenneth is the fearless type. He has always been adventurous, and has taken risks and jumped at the opportunities that have opened up. Traveling has meant a lot to him, and he has, among other things, lived in China for several years, where he was apprenticed as a swordsmith.

He first sought out a swordsman, but was told that he had to learn Chinese before he would be accepted. One year later, when the language was in place, he returned and was allowed to begin his apprenticeship.

You set out on a path, and it takes you where you’re going. Where you go – there you are.

Kenneth, quality engineer

This is how he has moved from one thing to the other, both professionally and privately. Among other things, this has led to him gaining a lot of relevant experience from various roles within production. In this context, UMF is a small workplace compared to what he is used to. He believes this is a major competitive advantage:

– If a machine breaks down, you lose money for as long as production is at a halt. At UMF, however, the management is close. Everyone pulls in the same direction, and it becomes easier to both fulfill needs and solve problems. Everyone plays an important role, and everyone helps to build and further develop. This in turn creates more ownership of the company and what it does.

Kenneth talks warmly, and it is clear that this is something that engages him. He appreciates being in a company with a good sense of unity, where everyone is on a first-name basis with each other and builds something together.

Passion for good handwork

Kenneth is easily absorbed by things, and needs to have something to do. He has had many interests over the years, such as snowboarding, travel, photography, astronomy, astrophotography, genetics, kayaking, Norse history, bookbinding, diving, motorcycling and pistol shooting. He has moved away from some, while other interests live on. The passion that has perhaps followed him the longest is the one that in his time made him seek out the sword master in China. Today, Kenneth has a forge where he forges and finishes his own knives.

– Forging knives is an artistic expression. I like to reuse old materials with history. It could be an old railway track, a saw blade, the remains of a Russian tank or a 300-year-old wedge from Kongsberg Sølvverk. Roots and history are important things to bring with you, says Kenneth.

With a focus on the exceptional

Then there was this thing about always striving for perfection. This clearly does not only apply to the job as a quality engineer. Kenneth’s knives have only become more and more extensive in design and layout. 3-4 years ago he spent 50-60 hours on a knife. Now it takes 500-600 hours to finish one knife. And he only makes one, exclusive knife a year. He works in more and more detail, and has introduced engraving to a greater extent, as well as the use of various precious stones, such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Now he also embosses his knives with extensive use of 24 carat gold. The only correct thing is to call his knives exceptional.

Do you want to know more about the knifesmith in Numedal? Check out Facebook and

The five S’s

Kenneth’s idea that the road takes you where you go has led him from China, via exciting professional challenges and varied fields of interest to Uvdal and the machine factory. But he has not left everything behind him. With him to UMF, he has taken a mindset of basic quality assurance and thoroughness: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. In short, this is about having the right and appropriate amount of tools, maintaining order so you don’t have to spend time looking, that everything has its place and that you are systematic in following up on these principles. He believes they can be used to achieve the high goals he has as a quality engineer.

– Quality is important, and we must always focus on what kind of goals we have. UMF has a desire to be a reliable supplier and create good relationships with customers. In production where people are involved, there will always be deviations. But our aim is of course to keep the deviation to an absolute minimum level. Therefore, we set high standards for ourselves. It’s about striving for perfection, smiles Kenneth.

Have you read about Trym who, after two years as an apprentice at UMF, got a vocational certificate?