In support of the UK Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ (SIM) Initiative, Schaeffler UK opened its factory doors for the fourth consecutive year to welcome local secondary school pupils to its plant in Llanelli, South Wales. Of the 57 attendees over the two days, 18 (32 per cent) were female – a significant rise from previous years.
Schaeffler UK’s Training Officer Donna Williams-Bevan comments: “The open days were once again a tremendous success. Feedback from pupils and teachers was again very positive and many of the children told us that they’d now like to work in manufacturing as a result of the visit. It was also great to see so many girls attending this year. Eighteen is the highest number of girls to attend a SIM event at Llanelli since the first one in 2011. Long may this trend continue.”
The open days took place over two days (21 and 23 October 2014) at the Llanelli plant, which produces high-precision bearings and automotive engine components. Year 10 and Year 11 (14–16-year-olds) pupils from five local schools took part: Amman Valley, Bryngwyn, Coedcae, Glan y Mor and St John Lloyd.
Following the success of three previous open days held at the Schaeffler UK plant in November 2011, June 2012 and October 2013, the 2014 open days once again gave pupils an opportunity to get a taste of what working in a real manufacturing environment is like. Pupils were encouraged to ask questions, discuss their career plans, and to take part in engineering challenges, a team building exercise and a guided tour of the plant.
Each of the two days was split into a morning and afternoon session, with 29 pupils attending on the first day and 28 pupils the following day. On arriving at the plant, pupils and teachers were welcomed by Schaeffler UK’s Training Officer Donna Williams-Bevan, senior toolroom technician Gareth Gravell and three of the plant’s engineering apprentices, Liam Smith, Warren James and Richard Price. Liam Smith, who started his apprenticeship at Llanelli earlier this year, actually took part in the 2012 SIM open day at the plant. Liam was so impressed by the open day that he went on to study electrical and mechanical engineering at the local college, Coleg Sir Gar, before applying for an engineering apprentice role at Llanelli – proof that the SIM Initiative really does work.
The pupils and teachers were then given a guided tour of the factory by Mark Webb, Daniel Summers and Michael Slater. After the tour, pupils were divided into teams in order to compete in two separate Engineering Challenges. The first involved the building of a tower block using a variety of materials and components, including paper clips and straws. The tower had to be constructed to a strict specification, with time and cost constraints.
The second challenge involved pupils having to correctly interpret an engineering drawing before devising a suitable method for assembling an idler hub bearing. The winner was the team that correctly assembled their idler hub in the fastest time.
After lunch, representatives from the local college, Coleg Sir Gar, one of the largest Further Education Colleges in Wales, came to the Schaeffler plant to run a 2-hour team building exercise. This involved teams of pupils being asked to design and build a hovercraft and then racing these against each other.
Towards the end of the day, pupils and teachers were given an opportunity to ask questions of the apprentices and toolmakers in an open, informal environment. Pupils were then given a ‘goody bag’ before departing the plant.
For more information about Schaeffler’s open days supporting the ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ (SIM) Initiative, email or visit www.schaeffler.co.uk.