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A Day in the Life: Design and Project Engineer, Corus Process Engineering

Mark Dixon graduated with a MEng in Mechanical Engineering with Management from The University of Liverpool in 2006. Soon afterwards, in July 2006, he was lucky enough to land a job with Corus Process Engineering. He is primarily involved with design projects in the steel industry, in particular the area of continuous casting: this is a refinement of the casting process to achieve the continuous high-volume production of metal sections. This allows lower-cost production and higher quality due to finer control through automation of the casting process.

He is also responsible for the health and safety, sitting on the Health and Safety Steering Group for his organisation. The group is in charge of reporting on accidents and implementing Corus-wide safety initiatives. He also checks the validity of all on-site suggestions made through Innov8, the divisional and site wide suggestion scheme. He decides whether or not to pursue the idea.

One of his recent projects was a design study for the Port Talbot Steelworks 350 tonne teeming ladle fleet -- ladles are containers used to transport and pour out molten metals. The following account is of a day shortly after his visit to Port Talbot. Mark was responsible for amendments to the ladles, ensuring they could carry a heavier weight while remaining the same weight themselves.

0830 Get into work. Fill in last week's time sheet. Begin writing up Thursday and Friday's site visit to Port Talbot concerning the 350 tonne teeming ladle design. It was identified that weight savings could be made by removing two auxiliary trunnions, two tonnes each, and converting the riveted flat bottoms of the ladles to a dished welded structure saving 10 tonnes. This amounted to a saving of 14 tonnes on an 80 tonne ladle. Top band modifications could be completed to increase the height of metal within the ladle. Alternatively, making the ladle oval-shaped could increase the capacity without changing the pick-up pints for the ladle's 500 tonne ladle crane.

0900 Begin translating the subsequent design changes into a detailed model of the Ladle using Pro Engineer software: this can be used as a checking device by recalculating the centre of gravity of the new ladle design. The ladle standard is used as a guide providing calculations to ensure the integrity of the design. This work -- punctuated by the occasional tea break -- takes up most of the morning, alongside discussions about the findings of the design study.

1230 Lunch. This normally involves a walk into Workington to carry out some errands and grab a bite to eat.

1330 Prepare for the monthly Health and Safety Steering Group meeting, ensuring several spare copies of last months minutes are available.

1400 Health & Safety (H&S) Steering Group monthly meeting: take minutes. Meeting structure:

  • Review of last month actions list.
  • Discuss any new Corus safety initiatives that are being introduced and discuss the best route of implementation.
  • Accident statistics for the previous month are reviewed and compared to year-to-date figures. The outcomes of any accident investigations are shared and corrective action to be taken is discussed.

1530 Type up minutes and email to steering group, which includes the manager of Corus Process Engineering, three department managers, two section managers, an H&S manager two supervisors and an HR manager.

1630 Check for any suggestions launched on the Innov8 database and take appropriate action to further or provide feedback as to why the suggestion will not be implemented.