Claire Collins

Claire Collins

What is the name of the company you work for and what do they do?

My placement is at Siemens Gamesa at the Blade Factory situated in Hull. It is the first blade factory of its kind within the UK for Siemens. At this plant, blades are both manufactured and distributed to offshore wind farms from the off-shore port at the factory.

I work within the Quality department which is comprised of control, surveying and assurance. The quality department ensures all blades are made according to the work instructions with no errors that compromise the quality of the blade delivered to the customer. Wind turbine blades move at 180 metres per second whilst on an offshore wind farm, any defects in the product could cause significant issues/damage.  The department regulates quality both in processes and product within the factory, as well as organising customer visits where the contractors themselves confirm the quality of the blades they have purchased.

What is your role within the company?

My role within the company is a Quality Intern. I am currently working within the Control department but will be gaining experience in both surveying and assurance. I assist senior management on a variety of projects as well as acting as QC (Quality Inspector). I am also involved with several projects across the factory with several teams, working with international contacts to move the business forward.

Can you give me an insight into a typical day?

A typical day starts at 7:30am where I get to work and change into my company workwear. At the start of the day I answer any emails from the night shift and review my tasks for the day.

Every day I update a time-lapse sheet for Inspections carried out in segment 2 of the factory using our data logging software. This data gets sent to managers in the global team, who can then assess the productivity of the factory. Additionally, I am currently involved in a Product Cycle Time Reduction project with a team made up of colleagues from a range of departments within the factory and throughout the day I work on my assigned tasks and attend catch up meetings with the project team.

Mondays and Thursdays, I host a meeting within the Quality department to review our continuous improvement board – (where any suggestions for improving the factory are placed and assessed based on their benefit, cost and ease of implementation). In these meetings, we discuss how I (as the person responsible for the board) have progressed any of the actions and any new suggestions. Feedback is also given on implemented ideas.

The rest of my time is spent with the Quality Coaches (QC) out on the factory floor inspecting blades and checking any repairs that have been done by production.

What do you enjoy the most and do you get involved in any interesting projects?

I enjoy the practicality of the job. It has given me the opportunity to work in a job where I get to do more than sit at a desk all day. I get to work with the QC’s as an inspector with my own equipment and meet a wide range of people on the factory floor.

Aside from practical activities, I am currently involved in a project that is analysing the cycle time of blades within the factory. The company has goals for ramping up the production process, and analysis of the current production and QC inspection time will allow this to happen. I have got to work with people from lots of different departments and thus got to experience different sides of the business to just working in the engineering and manufacturing part. This project will eventually allow the hour by hour schedule for the first two segments of the factory to be mapped out into a TAKT plan, that when followed will set up the factory to achieve the increased production goals.

Why did you want to undertake a year in industry?

I wanted to undertake a year in industry as I hope to move into a career within nuclear engineering, and wanted experience working in an engineering and manufacturing environment. As a physics student, we don’t have a lot of practical from the course, but a year in industry will allow me to develop skills focused on engineering and manufacturing. I feel skills developed from a year in industry whilst at university are invaluable for helping to apply for jobs after graduating. It also provides good practice of the application process including writing a CV, completing online tests and attending a variety of interviews.

What do you think you have got out of this experience so far? 

So far I have gained confidence integrating myself into a team as well as working outside of my comfort zone introducing myself to senior management from different departments and collaborating on projects with them. I have gained experience in the application process as well as the different types of interviewing. I have had the opportunity to take on lots of new projects and step into ‘managing’ roles within the QC team. I have also made friends with a great team of people and really enjoy my placement role.

Do you have any tips and advice to current students thinking of undertaking a year in industry?

If you are looking at doing a placement start thinking about it early. There are a number of placements whose application deadline is in November and December. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to apply for the placements, as they often require cover letters as well as 300 word answers to why you want to work for that company etc. Writing the perfect application is time consuming and if a deadline is looming because you haven’t planned well enough in advance, it can be quite daunting trying to rush out a response that will stand you above all of the other applicants.

It is quite often a long process with many stages of online testing and interviews before you get to the face to face interview and a chance to actually get the job, but it is worth the hard work. Even for unsuccessful applications it has been so helpful in learning how to apply for jobs and what standard you have to be to get through to the final stages.

I would recommend a year in industry because it gives you experience working within a professional environment. It means that after university, even if you are planning on applying for a job that is no way related to your year in industry, you have lots of skills and experience to talk about and add to your CV, as well as business contacts you can use for the future.