Bjarne has studied civil and mechanical engineering at Luleå University of Technology, and after graduation he received a doctorate in materials engineering at Linköping University. In 1999 he was employed as a lecturer at Luleå University of Technology and has since been a resident here. The move from mechanical engineering to mathematical statistics is shorter than you might think.
“Virtually all researchers must use some form of statistics, more or less voluntarily. During my time as a graduate student I conducted a lot of experiments and used statistical design for research planning. That was how I started researching in quality engineering, a subject that is important for improving processes and products, both for companies and organizations.”
Bjarne Bergquist’s research concerns methods for business development and how people think in different situations. Quality engineering is an interdisciplinary subject that intersects with psychology, marketing, organizational theory and product and production development.
“My research is based on methods utilizing mathematical statistics, which means that we develop tools for statistical research planning, time series analysis, multivariate data analysis and simulation tools for predicting various process events. We create, for example, instruments to monitor a manufacturing process, the instrument provides indications of whether something needs to be addressed in the process. We can also use statistical models in experiments to see how to improve the processes we are studying. We develop tools that gather numerical information, which then facilitates good decision-making in the improvement process.”
There are many models, such as Lean, Total Quality Management and Six Sigma, which were designed for industries and that are now being implemented in other types of operations. In the Netherlands, for example, the Six Sigma method is applied in health care. Six Sigma assumes that there is an iterative process, and above all, expertise within the organization regarding how the method is to be used.
“In the health care sector there is a great deal of interest regarding how to streamline the flow. We are not sales people who want to force a solution on someone, but we can teach how it works in other contexts. Various methods have different advantages and disadvantages, so no one should think that a method can simply be ‘translated’. And if the fundamental prerequisites, for which the method has been developed do not exist, it’s not certain that the method will work.”
Railroad maintenance is a neglected area in Sweden. In a few current projects Bjarne Bergquist and his colleagues have examined various issues regarding rail maintenance.
“In one of the projects we are examining how procurement of maintenance works. A thesis we have is that there are problems stemming from operations having been privatized. And it’s a problem both ways, for example, that communication does not work. What we have seen is that the Swedish Transport Administration has tried various models for tender documents; very detailed where everything is done to specify that the supplier will be responsible for determining how railway maintenance should be managed. Another interesting question we are studying is how the information that describes the state of the facility is collected by the Swedish Transport Administration, and how it can be used. If the information could be used, for example, to predict where and when maintenance needs to be performed, a lot is gained in terms of both cost and reduced delays,” concludes Bjarne Bergquist.
Bjarne Bergquist also teaches quality engineering in postgraduate courses and has quality responsibility for courses in basic education that include, among other courses, research planning, customer-focused product development, statistical process control, and theses work.