Welcome back to my monthly blog on my three year engineering apprenticeship at Parafix. If you missed the first one you can read it here.
It’s been a busy first month for me, with learning lots of new names and getting an understanding of the world of converting adhesive tape.
On my first day I found everyone to be incredibly friendly and welcoming. I shook so many hands; there was always a new person to meet! I was given a laptop and my own desk which I wasn’t expecting as an apprentice; this made me feel important and valued, which was very nice. I undertook general health and safety training on my first day and later received health and safety training on all machinery that I was trained to use.
I got stuck in straight away, drawing samples on CAD (Computer Aided Design); I already had some experience of 3D drawing and enjoyed working with 2D. I was also involved in a meeting with Rotometrics, our tool supplier, which was a lot more laid back than I thought it would be which made me feel really comfortable. By day three I had produced a drawing and first sample of parts. I felt I had finally done something for the company that helped, rather than just asking lots of questions!
By the end of the first week I was officially trained on the X/Y axis plotter (where we produce rapid prototypes for customers). The plotter is called Harry as when it first arrived at Parafix it needed to be linked to Outlook so it could receive emails with drawing attachments – this is an example of the good humour found amongst my colleagues! I can now use ‘Harry Plotter’ by myself and the responsibility at this early time has given me more confidence; it was the right timing for me, as I was eager to get on and be productive.
During my second week I started working with Ashley, the R&D Project Assistant; he had a medical application that required a sample. He taught me how to use the swing beam die-cutter. By this point I was making samples from both my own drawings and our customers’.
In week three, I assisted Julian (R&D Manager), who is a qualified electrician, in stripping down an electrical cabinet in one of our AccuPlace machines. This equipment provides automated placement of tricky to handle adhesive components. We use them in-house for assembly of customers’ parts and we also sell them to our customers who wish to use them in their own manufacturing processes.
I also got the opportunity to learn how the rotary die-cutters operate, which included helping with the set up to create some samples. This was really useful for me as I will design samples that will need to be made on the rotary as well as the plotter.
During week four I went to Northbrook College for the first time for signing on and an introduction to the college and the course. I found out I’m the only girl in the class, which has an age range of 17-40. This doesn’t faze me though.
This week also saw the approval from the customer of a sample I made at the beginning of the month. They required a quote for production, so I designed the production process.
I’m enjoying these new tasks as I feel like I have a bit more responsibility and I’m learning more about the other processes surrounding sampling. I’m also enjoying integrating more with others outside of the R&D department.
Overall I’m feeling excited for what is yet to come, including learning more, gaining more responsibility and moving into other departments to get a better understanding of the company as a whole.