Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.19.16TWO problem-solving apprentices are proving they have the skills to succeed, applying innovation to save their employer thousands of pounds every week.

Nifco UK apprentices Anna Donaldson and Alex Park implemented the quality check device, which negates the need for manual checking of some moulded parts with inserts after manufacture.

Anna, 19, and Alex, 20, who are both apprentice production engineers with the Eaglescliffe car parts company, were tasked with finding a solution to check for metal inserts in a component produced by Nifco.

The duo, who study at Middlesbrough College, willingly accepted the challenge, and as a result, have worked together to implement the new system, something bosses say will make significant savings for the company.

Anna, who was nominated as Apprentice of the Year in the Plastics Industry Awards (PIA) last year, said: “It gives a big sense of achievement to know that something we suggested could have such a big impact on Nifco.

“We were challenged with the project and suggested that the company bought a magnetic gripper to help support a quality checking process that we were having to carry out manually.  This device will save us a huge amount of time.”

Alex, who is also one of Nifco’s shining stars, having been shortlisted for this year’s Apprentice of the Year title at the PIA, said he was proud to have helped his employer in bringing new technology into the business.

He said: “There is a really open culture in Nifco.  Managers are more than happy to listen to suggestions we make, and if there is a business case for implementing change, they will go ahead and do it.

“When we spoke to our line manager, he suggested we demonstrate the benefit to the business, and so we created a Powerpoint presentation and put it forward to management.  They agreed that we should trial the gripper, and when we were able to show them the impact, they were really impressed.

“It’s great that in this case, the suggestion we made has worked, and will help save a huge amount of wasted time and materials.”

Alex and Anna are both in their final year of a three-year apprenticeship with the company.  Nifco recruits apprentices across its team, with a commitment to add at least six young apprentices for each year that it adds to its number.

Mike Matthews MBE, managing director of Nifco UK and European operations officer, who himself started off as an apprentice with the company, said that the value added by young trainees across the team was making a significant difference.

He said: “Anna and Alex have made a tremendous contribution to Nifco, and the fact that – as two people who are still young, and still learning – they are able to come up with solutions to problems that could have cost us many thousands of pounds is testament to their great ability.

“We believe, very strongly that it is everyone’s responsibility to create opportunities for the next generation of engineers and manufacturers.  And why wouldn’t they, when – within three years – you can have people on your team who are able to make vast improvements that ultimately impact positively on the bottom line.”

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