Hi Matt, tell us how you got into engineering?
I completed a Mechanical Engineering degree from John Moores University, Liverpool in 2018, and then flew out to Australia for a year to live and work. I didn’t do anything related to my degree, so it was only when I came back to the UK in 2019 that I joined LCA Group as a CAD (computer aided design) Engineer. I was lucky that one of my school friends’ fathers already worked at LCA, and they told me about the role available and were able to give me a bit of information about the company.
Joining as a CAD engineer meant that I was looking after all the cutting contracts at LCA – this involved the quotation, design, programming and cut, finish, and send off to client. In July 2020 I was promoted to my current role of Manufacturing Engineer which felt like a great achievement, firstly because it was in the middle of a pandemic when there was so much uncertainty around and also because this was my first job within the engineering industry.
Can you talk us through your day-to-day responsibilities?
As the Manufacturing Engineer I am heavily involved in the resource scheduling for the manufacturing facility. I look after all the automation equipment, tendering for build to print contracts and I am the first point of call for queries or problems for the team of wire persons within the facility.
Day to day I am liaising between my team of technicians and the engineering team. I provide the management team with feedback on project progress, and I am responsible for setting clear expectations with my team for what resource allocation has been budgeted for each job. Collaborative communication is essential in this role as it allows us to become more accurate with project estimations and any design considerations which need to be allowed for.
How has LCA helped you develop?
Since joining I have learnt a lot from LCA – from the manufacturing processes to the design reviews and client interface.
I have been able to put the knowledge I gained whilst studying to use and LCA have been proactive with informing me of courses and qualifications I should be aiming for over the next few years. We have recently become an Enterprise Partner of the IET (Institute Engineering Technology), and I am really keen to progress and work towards my Incorporated Engineer status.
Last month I was given the opportunity to present at the bi-monthly Board Meeting which was a huge compliment. I was tasked with looking at potential new wire preparation solutions as we are keen to upgrade our current machinery to something which allows more automation and integrates with EPLAN – our CAE software.
Whilst I was slightly nervous about the prospect of presenting, this project has given me the opportunity to gain exposure to key stakeholders within the business, it’s given me confidence to be more vocal with my opinions and ultimately it has enabled me to be involved with the future manufacturing process decision making. Had Covid restrictions allowed I would have been travelling to the Rittal Innovation Centre in Germany or Komax Centre in Switzerland to see the machinery in action – however as with everyone else’s travel plans these are on hold for now and we are utilising technology to give us further information on how the machines would integrate with the rest of the manufacturing facility.
How has the pandemic affected you and the projects you work on?
The past year has been difficult from a resource point of view, there has been a regular flow of projects but there has also been a lot of stopping and starting, projects are being delayed by clients for various reasons and we have also had trouble sourcing some materials after Brexit.
Most of the engineering team have been working remotely, and to begin with I found this really challenging as I was used to having the team in the office for quick informal face to face chats. However now that I can’t just pop by their desk to ask a question it has forced me to find solutions to problems myself. I have also gained confidence in knowing when a meeting is necessary, and I will arrange this with the relevant people to resolve problems as they arise.
Any advice to someone thinking of a career within manufacturing engineering?
This is a great career option for someone who likes to find solutions to problems, is naturally well organised, and likes collaborating with a team. To make this role work you have to speak to various different internal and external stakeholders, and it is about managing expectations.
I really enjoy working at LCA, the projects we work on are interesting, the company is growing and investing in automation, and I work with a great team of people.