Thinking of applying for our Manufacturing Engineer vacancies? – We spoke with Phil Buxton about the new department.

We have recently launched some vacancies for the Manufactured Products Organisation, this is a new department within Sellafield when did you join the team?

I started nearly 3 years ago when it was just an idea to create a central function that looked after Manufactured Products. The Manufactured Products Organisation (MPO) is now its own business unit with a multifunction team consisting of Manufacturing Engineers, Designer Engineers, Quality Engineers, Demand, Commercial and Project Management.

What is the vision for the department?

Take control of volume manufactured products for Sellafield to enable an improved standardised approach and positive change to be implemented e.g. ensure security of supply, appropriate SL support and oversight arrangements, standardise processes, continuous improvement, data driven decisions etc.

Why the requirement for a Manufacturing Engineer with a strong background in Metrology?

Over the last few years there are numerous examples where both us as a business and our manufactures have struggled to translate the drawings into the most appropriate dimensional inspection plan to validate the requirements. This has caused significant delays to projects. At Sellafield we have internal technical experts that support the team e.g. welding & materials as and when required. Yet we don’t have metrology experts, which felt like a missing piece of the jigsaw. Hence this role.

What skills, attributes and experience are you looking for candidates to have to join your team?

These roles require individuals with both a strong manufacturing background in volume products combined with strong behavioural attributes. We want individuals that understand new production introduction and development (ideally with an industry best practice structured approach e.g. AIAG 5 core tools). Practical experience of a variety of manufacturing processes and techniques, with the ability to use this to spot potential problems and improve designs by making them more manufacturable. Confidence and communication are also key as once established you will be representing Sellafield with a variety of stakeholders.

What was your role prior to joining the MPO?

I initially started with Sellafield on a year in industry placement during my degree. Since coming back full time as a graduate I worked my way up through Operations as a Shift Team Manager and then on to an Operations Manager. I then moved over to Engineering, where I was the Crane Engineering and Maintenance Manager before starting with Manufactured Products. One of the many great things about working for Sellafield is the variety of roles and opportunities available.

Joining a new business and possibly even a new industry can be quite daunting, especially given the current pandemic, what would the first twelve months of the candidates experience involve and what training will they receive?

We have got new contracts being awarded towards the back end of the year and new products currently being developed. Therefore initially the successful candidates will be brought up to speed with our approach and products. At the same time I’m hoping we get some constructive challenge back based on the candidates experience and background. The Manufacturing Engineers are then likely to be assigned certain products and Manufacturers for them to be responsible for from a manufacturing engineering perspective. With regards support each person is different, so the support will be tailored to the individual. This is the same with training. If individuals have gaps or are identified for development you will be supported with this.

What do you enjoy most about working for Sellafield?

That is a really difficult question to narrow it down to just one. For me it is a number of factors including variety of work, flexibility within the role, working with the Design Engineers & Quality Engineers to implement improvements and sort issues, working with a number of manufacturers all with their own strengths and weaknesses, every day is a school day with the varied people around the role. I could go on….

How many are in the team?

In the MPO there are currently approximately 30 people. This is planned to increase to about 50 in the next 12 months. Within the Manufacturing Engineering element of the team there is currently 2 people due to the internal skill shortage in this area. This is currently being supported by external consultants. Hence this recruitment campaign to take on a further 6 Manufacturing Engineers.

How would these roles differ at Sellafield to that in an external organisation?

Typically a Manufacturing Engineer would be based in a manufacturing company. We do have a modern site manufacturing facility, but this is mainly for one offs required urgently to keep the plants running. Therefore the main difference with this role is that you are acting as an intelligent customer helping SL to standardise our approach and assisting the manufacturing companies to develop our products and implement improvements. One key difference is that you are responsible for the manufactured products from cradle to grave. Therefore rather than once they are manufactured they leave the factory and you have no further input, you will be involved with the plants that use and store them.

In addition to this the majority of our bespoke products due to the nature of their requirements are designed in-house rather than by the manufacturing company. Therefore it is key that the Manufacturing Engineers work collaboratively with the designer and the manufacturers to ensure that not only does it meet its functional requirements it is also manufacturable.

What advice would you give someone thinking of applying?

When considering the factors that are important to you as an individual to make the decision whether you apply or not, you will no doubt consider the role, opportunity for development & progression and rewards & benefits. Another factor is likely to be location of the role that I think needs clarifying. The successful candidates will either be assigned to either Risley, Warrington or Sellafield as a base location depending on the candidates preference. There would be travelling with the role between SL sites and Manufacturers premises as required. There is flexibility to work remotely from home on some days.

The applications are used to shortlist applicants, so when completing the application form my advice would be to provide a paragraph with specific examples (where possible) against what you require for the role. If there is one or two areas within the requirements that you don’t meet I would still encourage you to apply as depending on the other applicants you may still be successful, but with some development required.

Interested in joining our Manufactured Products Organisation? – Head over to our Search and Apply page to learn more about the vacancies available.


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