Mechanical engineering graduate Ansar Sardar

Students benefit from hands on experience

Mechanical engineering graduate Ansar Sardar has completed a year in industry with vacuum technology company Edwards. He faced real working challenges including designing and developing production tooling, generating standard operating practices and setting up Kanban supply routes for castings to the machine shops.

Through taking part in the scheme Sardar gained valuable experience of what a working environment is like and the project has given him hands on experience.

Designing and manufacturing a device from scratch

One of the several projects he undertook was to design and manufacture a lifting device for a heavy machined component being introduced as part of a major new product introduction (NPI) process. The component is machined from an iron casting weighing 56kg, much too heavy to be lifted manually. 

Health and safety in all areas of the business is important to Edwards and through designing a new lift, Sardar would be helping to protect employees from potential injuries.

Sardar developed the concept for the project, sought advice where necessary from Edwards’ experienced engineers and then transferred the concept into detailed, toleranced engineering drawings for each part of the device. As the drawings were used to manufacture all of the parts, they needed to be of high quality. Once the parts had been made, he assembled them and arranged for the device to be load tested to 50 per cent more than the component weight.

Learning on the job

There were a number of considerations Sardar had to take when designing the device, including:

  • It would need to be attached to an existing crane to lift the casting from the container it is delivered in (a Kanban) and position it on the machining fixture of a horizontal machining centre while the operator clamps the casting in position;
  • It would need to support the valuable finished machined component on the machining fixture while the operator releases the clamps, while protecting the component from damage;
  • It would need to lift the component from the fixture, allowing it to rotate freely through 90° in mid air while being lowered onto a second fixture ready to be measured in a coordinate measuring machine.

“The first device Ansar made worked perfectly but was a little too heavy in itself,” says Glen Price, senior manufacturing engineer, Edwards. “Undeterred, he re-designed the main body, reducing its bulk and changing the material from steel to aluminium. “

“It was very rewarding to see that the device made a real contribution to the company and it has given me a great sense of achievement to have completed the year,” Sardar says.

Further responsibilities

Sardar was also concerned with the generation of standard operating practices for the functional testing of completed vacuum pumping systems, running pump test programs and rig based tests. Materials management for successful materials control within the manufacturing cells was also included in his responsibilities, for which he received complete training.

“One of the most positive aspects of my placement was the wide variety of work involved,” he says. “The diversity of different tasks made the working environment very interesting, allowing me to develop a variety of skills. It wasn’t simply a job but a lifetime opportunity.

What’s learnt from a year in industry

“The combination of research, development and technical work made my job interesting and educational. I used the opportunity to improve my flexibility, problem solving skills and the commitment by working in different departments and providing technical support.

“I have learnt a vast amount through taking the year out, such as training and development skills required for project management, visual and engineering drawings skills involved in the design for manufacture and tool development, interpersonal and communication skills required in collaborating among the other team members, technical skills, a commercial awareness and motivation and initiative. By doing the placement I am able to provide an effective contribution to the work-based environment and improved my own learning and performance.”

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