Project Engineer

Job Title: Project Engineer

Name: Andrea Judd

Company: Northern Foods – Fox’s Confectionery

Professional Qualification(s):

B.Eng. Chem. Eng. Associated member IChemE

Degree Studied at…

Aston University

Brief job description

Installation & commissioning of new kit

Fault finding & problem solving

Improving line efficiency & performance

My career so far…

I started at Trafford Park Bakery in August 1999. They were in the process of installing an automated quiche production line, a fully automated folded product process and changing the layout of the factory. I worked on the installation and commissioning of the quiche line. After the project I moved into the engineering maintenance department where I became the shift supervisor on the 6-2 shift. During this time I was dealing with everyday maintenance issues and product relaunches. In August 2001 I was offered a job as project engineer at Fox’s Confectionery. I worked on the installation and commissioning of the Poppets line and chocolate supply system. Now that we are in production I am concentrating on line improvement to raise efficiencies and new product development.

What does your job involve in a typical day?

8am – Production meeting. The team leader will go through the figures and issues from the day before. This gives me things I will need to concentrate on and allows me to receive feedback on any changes I might have made.

After the meeting I’ll liaise with members of the line team from technical and production and start looking to solve ongoing problems This will be either be done by working in house together or talking to suppliers.

At present I am involved with new product development so I attend meetings with marketing and technical do discuss what we need to do to the kit in order to make the products that they want. I will then have to consult suppliers for costing.

We need to get efficiencies up on the line so I have to develop planned maintenance jobs for the maintenance engineers and sort out the spares that we need to keep on stock for them to do their job.

When we have contractors and suppliers coming to work on site I need to be responsible for the job that they are doing and also for their welfare on this site. This includes permits to work and contractor supervision (unfortunately this could occur at the weekend).

What do you like most about your job?

It’s not boring. It can change from day to day. One day I can be on the line all day trying to fault find and solve problems, the next I can be in meetings with other departments and suppliers trying to improve the kit and expand our product range.

It’s nice to see a well-known product on retailer’s shelves and know I had something to do with getting it there.

What skills are required in your job?

The ability to work with people.
Practical thinking.
Common sense.

I don’t have the job of an old school, theoretical engineer. I am more of a process person. To do my job I need to be able to get input from other people whether they are engineers, operators, technical, production or outside suppliers. I then need the practical knowledge of my process to be able use their information to improve the product

How many people work for you?

No one on site works for me. I work with the production team leaders to prioritise work for the maintenance engineers and to get PPM jobs carried out.

I have responsibility for outside contractors coming in and doing work for me. This could range from one or two on a daily basis to five different teams of contractors on site during the height of the project installation.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?

Be flexible – don’t expect a 9-5 desk job. Most work in the industry is at the mercy of production. Even if you’re not working in the production function you should see yourself as a support to it and can therefore be needed at any time. Most of the work is in the factory with the products. This means that it can be very fast-paced, is always changing and you will never be bored. Conversely it also means that you could be expected to work shifts, long hours or weekends.

The food industry is the same as any other – it relies on people. You need to be able, and prepared, to deal with people and get the best out of them. You may not, like me, have anyone reporting directly to you but you will still need to work with, and support the rest of your team.