When I left school, I was keen to combine further study with hands-on experience that could lead to good career opportunities in the engineering manufacturing sector.
This is exactly what I got when I started an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) traineeship.
This traineeship is run jointly by the forklift manufacturer Combilift and my local Further Education Institute in Monaghan, Republic of Ireland.
The traineeship was part classroom-based and part work placement. It covered a wide range of topics and skills, including engineering and manufacturing processes, fabrication, welding, electrics, electronics and health and safety.
It was good to learn the theory behind these processes and to watch practical demonstrations, but for me, the real learning happened when I was actually carrying out the various tasks on the factory floor - it all came together for me.
Combilift manufactures a very wide range of different customised forklifts, including electric, diesel and LPG models - machines with lift capacities from 1.5 tonnes up to over 80 tonnes.
The majority are built to customer specifications, which means that every forklift is different, so from my point of view, this made the whole course even more interesting and challenging.
During the traineeship, I did ten placements across Combilift and worked in different sections of the factory each time. This gave me a really good understanding of the stages that go into manufacturing a Combilift forklift from start to finish.
Working on gearboxes for the 4-tonne and 6-tonne machines during my placement in the swivel section helped me make the connection between the theory taught in the classroom and its practical application.
When Combilift opened its new 46,500 sq. factory this year, it invested in a lot of new machinery. This included a Peddinghaus multi-function plasma cutter, which is an amazing and powerful piece of equipment. It can take 90mm sheets of steel and drill, tap and countersink holes in just minutes, compared to the weeks it used to take to process by subcontractors.
After I completed the traineeship, I was offered a new role in the machine shop office and had the opportunity to work with this machine. I learned how to nest parts, which is basically taking in orders for parts to be manufactured on the Peddinghaus and putting them onto sheets of raw material. In technical terms, this involves setting up the parts, i.e. hole dimensions, drilled or tapped holes, counterbored holes etc.
This is interesting and, at times, challenging. When I first started my traineeship, I never thought I would end up working with millions of dollars’ worth of machinery! The Institute tutors and specially appointed Combilift mentors and supervisors really support all the trainees throughout the course and I found that, if you have the drive and enthusiasm, there are exciting and rewarding employment opportunities.
Daniel Soden, Combilift, Ireland
- Publication date
- 8 October 2019
- Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion