A Day in the Life of a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice

A Day in the Life of Lewis Hamilton, a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice at Greenfield Engineering

Career Start Date: 14/08/2015


My Dad already worked for Greenfield Engineering and he encouraged me to apply for an Engineering Apprenticeship because he said that I would make a good engineer and would be working with a company that values its staff as well as using cutting edge technology. The company had a great setup for training young apprentices by established sheet metal engineers who are very passionate about sharing their knowledge and experience to develop young engineers for the business.

I also attend Petroc College one day each week for classroom learning which hopefully will result in me achieving a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. The college assessor also pays regular visits to my workplace where I am building a detailed portfolio of evidence to support my Level 3 NVQ Extended Diploma in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering.


07.30 – I arrive at about 7.15 and clock in. I usually go into the production office were Kieron my Team Leader has printed off the day’s work orders for each punching machine. These are the jobs required for that day’s production.

08.00 – I then issue the works orders to the relevant punching machines, and show the operators their order of priorities. Then I can go to my machine which is at present the Amada EML combination. I then set up the first job.

09.00 – I request Roy our forklift driver to collect from our material stores the material needed for the day’s production. I also carry out a full stock check of material as well as current parts in progress and pass this information back to the Production Scheduling team.

10.00 – Is our first tea break I usually chat with the other apprentices and engineers. I check what jobs are running and relay that information back to the team leader before his production meeting.

11.00 – The team leader after his production meeting will sometimes change punching priorities. I am then responsible for batch shortages or urgent samples on my machine. I will then update my material list if I haven’t got the material in the tower waiting.

12.00 – I have my lunch in the canteen and talk with the first year apprentices on what they have been doing or learnt that morning.

12.30 – After lunch I return and log into our MRP system and update work orders which have been punched/lasercut in morning. This helps keep the system live and the production scheduling team can clearly see if the day’s production targets are being achieved. I will also do my routine checks and maintenance on the laser. This consists of setting and centering the laser beam. I will recalibrate the laser head and make fine adjustments to make the laser beam central in the lens, also checking the cutting nozzle is clean.

13.00 – I then carry on with production till 2.30 when I go for my last tea break, but the EML is automated so will carry on running production through break. As I finish jobs I will book off more work orders on the system, I go through with my Team Leader (mentor) what I have learnt today and how I felt about the tasks I have completed.

15.00 – This is the last part of the day and is usually were we start getting production ready for the second shift. I make sure the furnace bins are empty; the gas has enough to run without stopping half way through a sheet run. Empty the slug bin. Check material has been brought over from the stores. Then it’s time to clean and tidy my work area. I will then go over with my team leader what production has not been completed and what I think should go through onto the second shift. I will then write up my handover shift notes which will help the second shift determine their priorities. I leave the place in a clean, safe and organised, ready for the next shift to take over.

16.30 – clock out.


What is your favourite part of the job?

I work in a small team of four in the sheet metal punching department. My favourite part of the job is the great team spirit and I enjoy the many different jobs. We all know and work to help each other and I feel like part of a big happy group. It is also great that we socialise a bit outside of work and are all just good friends.

What would you say is your biggest achievement since starting your apprenticeship?

Being introduced into the factory / engineering environment with people I didn’t know and machinery or technology that I have never seen before was a bit daunting as a young lad. But now being able to operate the majority of our CNC Punches, Laser and Press Brakes along with becoming an important member of staff and having many good friends at work has been a great achievement.

How do you relax when you are not working?

My biggest passion outside of work is football and I currently play for my local side. My preferred positions are either Defensive midfield or Defender. I feel that this team sport also help with my approach to team working in the workplace. “Knowing each team members strengths and weaknesses” is crucial for any team to operate effectively.

Why did you decide to become an Apprentice?

I decided to become an apprentice after completing a week’s work experience at Greenfield engineering. Before this I was in school not really knowing what I wanted to do after my GCSE’s.I knew I didn’t want to continue with fulltime education and decided that the opportunity to earn whilst I was learning was too good an opportunity to miss out on. Almost three years on and I can definitely say that it was the right decision.

What are the best things about working in the Sheet Metal Industry?

The best thing about working in Sheet Metal Engineering is that it is interesting and very diverse. There is always a problem to be solved with new technology being brought in and different processes which I need to learn and adapt my skills. Also, I get to try different engineering activities from Design Engineering, CNC turret punching, Press brake and Panel bending work. Maybe eventually moving into being a team leader.

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