From car racing to engineering, see how this young engineer is helping to get more ventilators out the door
Jamie Perkins is a Technical Specialist in the Lean Continuous Improvement Department at Smiths Medical based in Ashford and commuting to the Luton site twice a week. In this interview, he reflects on his role as an Engineer contributing to help save lives as part of the Ventilator Challenge UK.
Doing things more efficiently
“As a Technical Specialist, my role focuses on helping our manufacturing sites globally improve their efficiencies, eliminate waste, optimise production lines and increase outputs. I’m always looking at how we can do things in a better way, taking less time.”
“Simply put, if someone is reaching across a desk to get a component, putting the component next to them is an example of what I do to eliminate the time spent getting something. That's how we gain efficiency and cut waste. A lot of it is common sense, but when you work in a fast-paced environment, things can get left as they are. My job is to go back through historical processes and tidy them up.”
From car racing to engineering
“As a child, I was curious to know how things worked. I didn't read books. I enjoyed sports and car racing and I guess this is what led me to a career in mechanics."
"But this wasn’t enough, I wanted to understand the engineering behind it and how cars were built. That's when I looked at how to get into engineering and Smiths Medical helped provide me with my first step.”
Another Smiths Apprenticeship success story
“I was a young Apprentice in the automotive industry, working as a qualified mechanic at a local business for three years before joining Smiths Medical.”
“When I joined Smiths as an Associate Engineer in 2012, my role was to run the packaging test centre. This is where we test all of the products in their packaging to make sure they remain in a suitable, clean and sterile condition when they reach the customer. We put them through transit tests which stimulate the distribution environment. I later moved to the Lean Continuous Improvement Department.”
Sense of purpose
“Earlier this year, when I heard on the news that UK hospitals needed ventilators to support Covid-19 patients, my first thought was we should do something to help. So when we were told that Smiths had been asked by the UK Government to ramp up our ventilator production, I was really excited to be part of this incredible national effort to help save lives.”
“Knowing how our products are used and who relies on them, made me feel that I was serving a purpose more than I did before and added a real feel-good factor to my job.”
“My personal objective was to increase the number of ventilators we could make. I started off by filming the production process to see how the operators were building the ventilators, how they were using the equipment and then what we could do to improve or increase our output. Trying to perform tasks in the most efficient way meant we could get more ventilators through the production line.”
“We had capacity for around 20-30 ventilators a week at Luton before the outbreak and now we’re able to make hundreds a week. The site now operates six days a week. Everyone works really hard.”
“My contribution has been to get more product out of the door by changing the way we work and removing things that are blocking us from increasing the output.”
Down the line
“I am currently enrolled in a part-time degree in Engineering at the Open University, studying in the evening. I haven't graduated yet, but I already have a lot of experience from working in the industry
“The focus of my engineering studies is sustainable energy such as solar and wind farms, finding non-fossil fuel sources or sustainable solutions to the world's energy needs, which I’m passionate about. I see engineering as a way to help the world become a better place for everybody.”
“My view of the world has changed since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Working in the medical industry, supplying essential products to our customers at this crucial time, has made me realise how much I enjoy helping others. This feel-good factor is why I love working for Smiths Medical and envisage pursuing my engineering career in the medical field.”
Proud to be Smiths
“Knowing who relies on our products makes me proud to work for Smiths."