What do you do day-to-day in your job?
My day-to-day job varies greatly as every day brings new challenges. My main job is to ensure the safety, reliability and integrity of the high & low voltage distribution systems. I do this by organising and coordinating the maintenance & servicing of all equipment associated with these systems such as; transformers, circuit breakers, busbars, UPSs (uninterruptable power supplies), variable speed drives, softstarts, PLCs, PFC (power factor correction) & control systems such as our power management system (PMS) and distributed control system (DCS).
As well as keeping the current equipment in safe working order I also plan, design & execute projects for new installations & upgrades, this could be for engineering issues out of equipment or increasing the efficiency of the plant. Occasionally there will be maintenance issues on plant that I’m required to assist with due to the more in-depth knowledge of the electrical infrastructure that I have gained over the years. Using this knowledge, electrical drawings, the plant data historian (PI) and the use of testing equipment to interrogate the issue we can usually diagnose and fix most issues we have on site.
What other jobs have you had?
After first leaving college I was a barista at Costa Coffee while I was looking for a career. When I first started at Cargill I started as a utilities apprentice where my main function was monitoring and operating of the compressed air system, cooling towers, water distribution and four combine heat & power plants (CHP). The CHP units comprise of a gas turbine, generator and boiler generating steam and electricity to supply the plant. This built the foundations for my current job.
What other jobs or career path did you consider?
When I was younger I considered becoming a fire fighter but after studying science, mathematics & electronics my thoughts changed to something more academic. My considerations changed to engineering and I contemplated computer engineering or electrical engineering, after working in the utilities department I eventually decided on the electrical path. I think the main reason I chose this path was the gap in my knowledge of something so fundamental in everyday life.
What qualifications do you have?
10 GCSEs, 3 A levels in Maths, Physics and Electronics, 2 NVQ level 2 & 2 NVQ level 3 in both ‘Chemical, Pharmaceutical & Petrochemical Operations’, and ‘Process Technology – Chemical Process’. I also have a Foundation degree in ‘Electrical & Electronic Engineering’ which I am currently continuing to degree level.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy the challenge of understanding and working with something you can’t see and the application of logic required in everyday work. In addition the variety of knowledge gained from the people around me. Although my main focus is electrical I have a good understanding of the mechanical & automation side of the process, as usually an issue on site involves or can be assisted by all areas of engineering.
What’s not so great?
The paperwork that needs to be generated before carrying out the work; although I understand the reasoning and requirement for this I don’t particularly enjoy it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? What’s your long term ambition?
In 10 years’ time I see myself as an established electrical engineer, with strong links throughout Cargill worldwide, while also potentially expanding my knowledge to other areas such as automation.
What one piece of advice would you give people trying to get into agriculture?
Agriculture isn’t just farming, there are thousands of different career paths in agriculture and each one is just as important to feed the world.