Dan Williams: Kontroltek’s Youngest Site Engineer
Lewys Gammond Phillips
Marketing Officer, Kontroltek Ltd
The first thing that strikes me walking around this huge food and beverage building is how many people say hello to Dan: ‘I’m probably very annoying as a site guy’ he laughs, ‘I like to get to know all the production staff! You meet loads of new people that way.’ Personally, I don’t see it as particularly irritating…and judging by the smiles and handshakes from the production staff in the building, I don’t think they do, either. Walking around the site, it occurred to me that Dan was clearly well liked and well respected – and after spending a day on site seeing what the Kontroltek site-engineers do, I can certainly see why.
The reason for him spending the day there was to visit a brand new production line that had recently been installed. Dan needed to check communications between the various process stages and ensure every production phase was running smoothly. Dan established an ethernet link, and viewed all the devices on the network. He then pinged each of the devices, and was satisfied after receiving a healthy response from all of them.
Class One Emergency
There wasn’t much time to admire the efficiency of the new production line. We were then quickly ushered to a Class One Emergency breakdown on the juice blend tanks. I watched as Dan nimbly shot up the ladder, and quickly got things running once again. He loaded the backup programme into their spare HMI to get production going again; Kontroltek had previously backed up their software for them, so luckily this emergency – although crucial – wasn’t too much of an issue.
‘Got a new apprentice have you, Dan?!’ Shouts the engineering supervisor over the loud whirr of the production line smoothly running again. He shakes my hand, and I explain that I’m just here to find out more about site engineers and what they do every day. ‘Ah – well this is a quiet day for Dan’ he says. ‘He’s usually running around like a headless chicken! But seriously, he really does do a lot for us.’
Dan graduates his undergraduate degree this year. Kontroltek took him on as an apprentice in 2014, which he completed – and as of September he will have achieved a BSc (Hons). He can ice skate, play piano, and get a production line back up and running in 2 hours – and he’s only 23. His life’s dream is to become one of Disney’s Imagineers – the research and development arm of The Walt Disney Company. Imagineers are responsible for the creation, design, and construction of Disney theme parks and attractions worldwide. But, for now, he enjoys being a site engineer at Kontroltek.
‘I think the most fun bit of being a site guy is how every day is completely different’ he tells me as we journey back to the workshop. ‘when I get called out, I have no idea really what’s wrong with the machine until I get there. It can be really satisfying too, if it’s a particularly tricky fault and you can get production up and running again’.
I ask him what the most challenging thing is about being a site engineer, and he pauses for a long time. ‘I don’t really know…I think the long hours can get pretty hard – they can be really unpredictable and long. It’s not like a 9-5 office job – you can literally get called out at any time, and you have to stay until the machine is working and the job is done. But I wouldn’t want to work any other way, because it’s all worth it when the fault is fixed and the customers really are so grateful when you get their production back up and running.’
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