We are pleased to introduce you to three of CB Technology’s apprentices as part of our CB People series. Bailey Graham (BG), Ethan Smith (ES) and Kris Koziel (KK) took some time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts on their eclectic time on the job. We find out more about their personal and professional journey, working as apprentices alongside their studies. All of our apprentices study part time in college alongside their advanced apprenticeships, while performing important roles within CB Technology.
How would you describe your role as an apprentice?
BG: My role includes testing products before they leave the factory to be shipped to the customer. This includes debugging products that fail the testing process and working within the test engineering team to help the production process run smoothly.
ES: My role as an Apprentice Process Engineer is to implement, change, and support any process or engineering related issues or requests. This could be a NPI process for a new customer or product, creating or changing work instructions to ensure the completion of the production floor process and carry out maintenance on machines to ensure that they are functioning.
KK: My role as an apprentice test engineer is to test the products to ensure that they work the way they are intended to before the products get sent out to our customers across the globe.
How did you get your apprenticeship?
BG:I was interested in pursuing an apprenticeship and saw CB Technology’s call out for new joinees. I applied through apprenticeships.scot.
ES: I was previously studying Nautical Science at college and did not have plans to pursue further education. I applied for the role of Apprentice Test Engineer by submitting a two-minute video talking about myself and my skills. I was then invited for a formal interview, followed by a tour of the facility, after which I was offered the role of Apprentice Process Engineer, and eventually began my apprenticeship.
KK: Before joining CB Technology I was studying electrical engineering at college. I saw the advertisement and applied via Indeed, I was invited for an interview and accepted the apprenticeship.
Why did you choose to complete your apprenticeship with CB Technology?
BG: CB technology is a local to where I live, and offered a good, structured training plan as well as crucial experience in the manufacturing industry, which was my career aim since before.
ES: Previous to joining CB Technology I didn’t have a great understanding of PCBs or electronics manufacturing. I began researching the sector before applying, the factory tour and initial interview convinced me that manufacturing looked like a really interesting business to get involved in.
KK: I chose to complete my apprenticeship with CB Technology because it is one of Scotland’s only ECMs. This means that I could get my hands on a lot of things and have a range of diverse experiences rather than doing the same thing every single day like you would in larger manufacturing setups.
What has surprised you the most during your apprenticeship so far?
- The factory is constantly changing. I have seen new customers and products being introduced, changes to the factory layout, and met many different people throughout my time.
- Electronics are complex with a lot going into manufacturing them. During my apprenticeship, I have seen the workings of complex PCBs handled by experienced engineers. I’ve also had a chance to enhance my own understanding of electronics by debugging faults.
- The need for maintenance to keep a factory running. I have been involved in maintaining large-scale machines within the factory, these machines need regular TLC to keep everything running smoothly.
- PCBs can come in all shapes and sizes with multiple different components which can be manufactured, tested, and programmed to be used in different ways such as bionic arms for amputees and satellites in outer space.
- A large amount of detail goes into manufacturing PCBs. This means if the smallest bit of information at the start of the process (e.g. BOM loading) is missing it can halt the entire process or create bottlenecks.
- Surface mount machines are an interesting bit of technology, which is responsible for correctly picking up and placing tiny components on a PCB at high speed repeatedly.
- The most surprising thing is how much there is to learn. Everyday is different from the last and there is always new information to learn about the products we manufacture and test.
- There are alternative ways to perform the same processes to fit the needs of the product and the customers.
- It is interesting to discover the fruits of our labour, and see the sort of products that our PCBs are placed into. These products go all around the world.
What is the most important skill you need for your job and how have you managed to develop that at CB Technology?
BG: Time management is one of the most important skills I have developed. Efficient time management has helped me plan better, ensuring I can meet all responsibilities.
ES: Like Bailey, it’s time management for me as well. Sometimes the manufacturing floor can get really busy and stressful, and we can get overloaded with tasks, requests, and meetings. Remaining calm is key to planning and managing expectations.
KK: For me it’s the attention to detail required on the manufacturing floor. Given I’m starting out and learning the ropes there are times things don’t go to plan. In moments such as these it’s important to take a step back and learn things the right way.
Has the apprenticeship inspired you to pursue a full-time career in electronics manufacturing?
BG: Yes, I get satisfaction out of seeing results from my work, and I have learnt a lot about the industry. I am still getting new opportunities to learn and improve as an engineer.
ES: Yes absolutely! No day is the same in the world of electronics manufacturing. The entire process of manufacturing a PCB is interesting, which are then used in medical equipment, military, or maritime equipment. The electronics market is set to continue growing, with plenty of opportunities in specific careers such as process engineering. Bespoke manufacturers such as CB Technology offer a progression path while supporting Scottish manufacturing.
KK: Yes, it has inspired me because I have learned so much about the workings of the EMS industry, inspiring me to explore all quarters of the sector. I’m looking forward to securing all qualifications required to become an engineer.