19-year-old Evie Charles gives us an insight into her typical day as an Engineering Apprentice at Niftylift.
“We design and manufacture Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs), more widely known as cherry pickers, in Shenley Wood. Our machines reach heights from 12.6m to 28m in to the air. I’m a trainee technical support technician apprentice and my apprenticeship lasts for four years, of which I’m currently in the first.
At 06:00am I wake up, get dressed and pack my bag before heading downstairs to make my breakfast and lunch. Half an hour later I leave the house and walk to Wolverton train station, to catch a train to Milton Keynes Central. By 07:00 am, I’m on a bus from Milton Keynes train station to Westcroft. From there, I have a 15 minute walk to Shenley Wood; our headquarters. I arrive at work around 07:30am and store my bag and coat in my locker in the changing room. I might eat some of my breakfast before starting my shift. Just before 07:50am, I walk to the line I’m working on during that rotation, clock in and book on the job.
From 08:00am to 10:15am, I work on the lines putting together the machines. My tasks are dependant on what Op on the line I’m on; this particular one is the finishing Op for our custom machines (SD120 & SD170). Working with a colleague, we start by raising the machine and resting it on blocks, then attaching the back axle. I worked on fitting the air filter and wiring the engine, whilst my colleague added the drive hubs, front and back gearboxes and wheels.
Between 10:15 – 10:30am I take a 15 minute tea break. This is where I eat the rest of my breakfast, have a hot drink and check my emails.
After my break I build up the feet of the machine; attaching the stabiliser switch box to each foot and fitting it with a cable gland. I applied hazard tape to both sides of all four legs whilst my colleague lowered the machine and prepared the hubs for the legs. Building them up two at a time, we attached the leg first using pins, adding the rams and finally the feet, before wiring up the switches.
12:45 – 13:15pm is when I usually take my lunch break. Normally I take sandwiches to work but there are several microwaves in the canteen, so I also have the opportunity to take in a hot meal to heat up. Every Monday after lunch we have a stakeholder meeting, where our team leader gives us a breakdown of production’s performance the week before and the number of machines we aim to produce this week.
After the meeting, labels are added to the machine and tests are run on it. Any problems that we come across, such as the siren not working or a leaking hose, we have to resolve the problem. To help with this, we may look at electrical wiring diagrams or hydraulic diagrams to help find a solution. After topping up the machine with oil and signing the paperwork, it’s ready to be taken off line. We then begin the whole process for the Op again. At 15:00pm there’s a tea break, where we can go and get hot drinks from the coffee machine.
At the end of the day I book off the job and clock out. After hanging up my high-vis in my locker, I collect my coat and bag, followed by a 15 minute walk to the bus stop. My bus journey home takes around 40 minutes long, depending on the traffic! When I get home I might have a small nap and then do some college coursework. We have dinner as a family around 6:30 pm. After that I do some more studying, recording my day in a journal as well and then get ready for bed. I aim to get to sleep around 10:30/11:00pm, so I’m ready to be up bright and early for work the next day – or if it’s a Tuesday or Wednesday it’ll be a day in College.”