A Day in the Life of a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice

Final year apprentice, Ben Jenkins tells us about his working day as a Trainee Production Engineer in the test department at BEL Valves.

07:30 This morning I will sit down with my manager and go over today’s jobs along with my training schedule so I know what I should be aiming to complete before the end of the day.

08:00 I start my training by shadowing one of the Production Engineers while he communicates with the supervisor and shift workers to find out if any priority tooling is required for the building or testing of the valves. It is important that the engineers on the job always have the tooling available, so that nothing slows down production in the factory.

We often design and manufacture our own tooling; the specification of the valves we make is always so precise, so standard tooling can’t be used.

09:00 Today I need to start to design the tooling required for pressure testing the valves using CAD software. I open the drawings for the job to use while designing the tooling so that I can see the sizes required. I work alongside experienced Production Engineers in the office so it is easy for me to obtain feedback, guidance and approval from my mentor.

10:00 I communicate with our material stores team to request the material needed in order to manufacture the tooling. I must ensure I create a document detailing the operations required to manufacture the part to the drawings’ specification. I will then send the details to the machine shop so that the parts can be manufactured.

11:00 I need to complete a stock take of all of the oils on site used for testing the valves. This is very important so that we can keep the stock levels up and not hold up the critical process of testing the valves.

11:30 I document the stock levels on my excel spread sheet and place an order for any of the oils that are low in stock.

12:00 I have my dinner in the canteen with the other apprentices on site and we discuss what we have been learning that morning.

12:30 After lunch, I return to the office and start to create a standard operating procedure for the paint shop. I have to communicate with the paint shop and discuss the job so that I can fully understand what they want to be specified in the procedure. This will be used as guidance on how to perform an operation so that there are no variances. I will also take pictures of the job to make it quicker and easier to understand.

15:00 I work alongside one of the Production Engineers to order valve seals for one particular job. The seals play a critical part in the process as they stop a valve from leaking and potentially causing a disaster hundreds of metres below the sea. Before we order the seals, we will study the drawings paying attention to the detail of the grooves so we can work out what size seals are required.

15:30 I go through with my manager what I have learnt today and how I have felt about the tasks I have completed. Then we will create a further training plan to develop the skills I don’t feel as confident with.

16:00 Time to turn my computer off and tidy my work station. I’m at college tomorrow so I won’t be back to my desk for a couple of days.

16:05 Clock out.