A unique internship scheme offered by Teesside University is helping to make an engineering firm more efficient.
Middlesbrough-based QA Weld Tech turned to Teesside University’s Resource Efficiency Pathways to Sustainable Growth (REPS) project to identify resource inefficiencies and provide recommendations to enhance business operations.
The recommendations of the REPS project were then implemented through the University’s Knowledge Exchange Internship (KEI) programme.
Fredrick Okwute, pictured above (right) with Paul Langley, Dr Ruben Pinedo-Cuenca, was employed as a Business Systems Coordinator to analyse data from thousands of different operations and look at ways in which the company can optimise the way it works.
Fredrick was employed on a 12 month Knowledge Exchange Internship (KEI) which as well as providing academic support and mentoring to the intern also subsidises the cost of his or her salary.
QA Weld Tech, which provides specialist welding and engineering services to clients around the world, is now reaping the rewards of the KEI and is already seeing improvements in how it operates.
The company’s Finance Director, Paul Langley, said the firm recognised there was a need to optimise its data collection using its current Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.
He said: “We already had the front end of the system in place but there was a lot of time and effort needed on the back end and we felt that we needed a dedicated resource to do this.
“Having identified this need, we felt that the right person to fulfil the role was a graduate and so we contacted the University.
“Teesside were able to help us through the whole process. They helped create the job specification and recruit the right graduate.
“We’ve already seen a lot of progress, particularly an improvement in our estimating.
“If we hadn’t had that dedicated resource, I don’t think we would have made these improvements, we have a much clearer vision now.
“It’s been great having that knowledge and support available from the University, it’s really helped us move forward.”
Fredrick, who is originally from Nigeria, joined QA Weld Tech in July 2013 after completing his MSc Engineering Management at Teesside University.
Throughout the project he was helped by Teesside University’s Dr Ruben Pinedo-Cuenca, a Project Manager at Teesside Manufacturing Centre in the School of Science & Engineering.
At the end of the internship, Fredrick was offered a full time position at QA Weld Tech.
He said: “I was brought in to enhance the use of shopfloor data collection and help to improve the business systems.
“I’ve been looking at different sections of the company, such as procurement estimation and sales orders and work orders and identifying what needs to be done to improve efficiency.
“It’s been a fantastic experience. There’s been a lot to learn so it’s been great to have the support from Ruben.
Dr Pinedo-Cuenca added: “This has been a very complex and interesting project which involved some extremely complicated data handling.
“The fact that thousands of operations are happening at a time made this a massive challenge but one which can realise massive benefits for the business.”
Knowledge Exchange Internships are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
They aim to make a major contribution to the ambition of the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13 by increasing business productivity.
For more information on how Teesside University can help your company to grow, visit www.tees.ac.uk/business.