Dan Stamp at work at Kliklok

Interview: Dan Stamp, Young Design Engineer of the Year 2015

Dan Stamp - 2015 Young Design Engineer of the Year - talks to E&T Magazine about his current role and why he'd recommend the packaging industry to other young engineers.

Dan Stamp is design engineer at Kliklok, which designs, manufactures and installs packaging equipment predominantly for the food industry. Last year he won the Young Design Engineer of the Year category of the British Engineering Excellence Awards. The judges looked for someone who ‘hit the ground running’, has applied ‘knowledge and innovation to projects’ and is ‘acting as an ambassador for their chosen profession’.

Dan, 26, joined Kliklok as an assistant engineer in 2011 after graduating from Bournemouth University with first class honours in design engineering. Kliklok sponsored Dan to undertake his master’s and he is applying for Chartered Status. He talks to E&T Magazine about his current role and projects and why he’d recommend the packaging industry to other young engineers.

Did you always want to be an engineer?

I’ve always wanted to be a design engineer, dreaming up something new no one has yet thought of, solving a problem with a novel idea or making something technical look artistic.

What do you love most about working in the packaging and processing industry?

What I find most interesting is the diversity of challenges. Like most engineers, I find solving a difficult technical challenge very satisfying. The packaging and processing industry is constantly changing, always requiring designers to think outside the box: sometimes to make a machine go faster or to fit a production line within a constrained space or to make something easier for an operator. Having this diversity allows for new things to be learnt, challenged and created.

What are the main challenges you face in your job?

There are two main challenges I see day-to-day: increasing a machine or an assembly’s functionality whilst decreasing its cost, and designing for modularity.

What have been your main achievements at Kliklok?

I’ve recently completed a project where I engineered a servo-motor-driven machine from an existing design that used an AC motor, phasing boxes and various shaft and timing pulley/belt arrangements. The aim of this project was to go faster, pushing the cartoning speed from 200 to 360 cartons per minute, but without increasing the price. This was accomplished, exceeding operating expectations and decreasing the material costs. This machine, which was customer-driven, is now becoming a standard offering as a high-speed option.

Describe your typical day in your current role?

I’m working on a large project currently in the concept phase of developing a new machine. So a typical day starts with looking at the task board and seeing which tasks I should be concentrating on. I would firstly go through my emails and review the progress on any outstanding projects. For the development project I’ll undertake a task that is typically orientated around designing something new on CAD or proving a technical function with a motion analysis. Around midday as a team we’ll discuss our progress, concerns and update the task board and afterwards I would continue with my task until the end of the day.

What special projects did you do for your master’s?

At the time of undertaking my master’s I was trying to push for 3D printing at Kliklok and I thought that involving this in my master’s would enable me to answer any concerns which many people within the company harboured. Wanting to do something a little different, I chose to look into dry sliding linear bearings, having used them on numerous occasions in different applications. I wanted to see if 3D-printing these held any advantages.

Opting for the SLS (selective laser sintering) process, I focused on build orientation, incrementally varying a specimen’s angle within the build tray, and measuring the dimensional discrepancies against the baseline. Then after subjecting each specimen to a controlled operation of sliding at a fixed oscillation, I measured the reduction in weight, deposition of material and the heat generated thoughout its operation. Interestingly, I found that the bearings printed at angles which gave a coarse, stepped finish on the sliding surface wore quickly and deposited excess material, creating a ‘third body effect’ and self-lubricated.

What advice would you give for current student engineers about to enter the world of work?

I’ve found that the best qualities for a young engineer to have in any industry are: enthusiasm and passion for what you do; to want to learn more; ability to work in a team and lead if necessary; good time management skills; and to go against convention and challenge what is known.

Would you recommend the packaging/processing industry?

Absolutely. It’s bustling with new and innovative processing techniques and equipment waiting to be developed and employed. The industry is full of like-minded engineers and interesting challenges, with an evident drive for innovation to boost performance.

What do you do outside of work?

I have a few hobbies. I enjoy going to the gym and swimming; I’m a member of a boxing club; and I make robots and interactive automated objects based around the Arduino controller [the open-source electronic prototyping platform].

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