Newcastle University Students Get a Taste of Factory Life at CMP Products

A group of five students from Newcastle University have recently completed a project for CMP Products as part of their Mechanical Engineering course. The project is part of a wider initiative to provide real-life engineering experience to students in the North East and to help develop the engineers of the future.

Sarah, Richard, Samantha, Emiel and Ivan tell us more.

Tell us a bit about the project…

We were assigned to complete a project at CMP by Newcastle University as part of our third year Mechanical Engineering degree. The project was to provide a solution for a tool store upgrade within the CMP factory in Cramlington.

What did you have to consider when looking at the tool store upgrade?

We needed to find a solution to provide tool traceability, measure stock control and house the factory workers’ personal protective equipment (PPE). We also needed to decide where the department would be located in the factory and work out a practical layout.

How often did you have to visit the factory?

We had 150 hours to spend on the project which worked out roughly at 15 hours per week over a 10 week period. When we first visited the factory we were made aware of the processes and had a tour of the facilities. We spoke to the workers responsible for the tool return area and found out what they wanted from the new system.

How did you complete your research for the project?

We divided the research up into sections: logistics, design, radio frequency identification (RFID), barcoding and PPE. We were also lucky enough to visit the factory at Unipres to get a feel for similar systems they were using.

So what were your findings?

We came up with three solutions for CMP. We could barcode every tool; this was the cheapest option but we thought the barcode may be hard to stick onto circular tools. We also looked at putting a RFID tag on to each tool, but we were concerned this would stop the tools from working in the factory machines. Our final option was to install an automotive touch screen system and this is what we went with!

How much do you propose the installation to cost?

We have forecast the full project to cost around £21,500.

Were there any drawbacks to the project?

Yes, the proposed automated tool system will still require manual labour and to increase security even more, we have advised CMP to install a CCTV system.

So, what did you find most challenging about the task?

It was hard to please everyone. All of the members of staff we spoke to wanted different things from the store as well as a lot of workers being wary of the change as they have been in the job for so long.

What advice would you give to students completing a similar task?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you are asking the most senior managers! It’s better to know more going into a project than not enough. Communication is key.

How did you find working as a team?

We worked really well actually. Everyone turned up to every meeting we organised. We made sure we were prepared for the meeting by completing any research we had agreed before. We also found keeping in touch with each other very important.

So, once you finish your degree would you be interested in applying for a Graduate position at British Engines?

Yes, everyone at the CMP factory has been supportive of the project and very friendly. It’s definitely worth considering now we have the experience.