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The best operators are steadfast and share their ideas

At our production sites across the world, Kanthal relies on knowledgeable operators. Bryony Harper and Lee Swan in Perth, Scotland, explain which skills are needed on the floor when production involves temperatures of 2,500 degrees Celsius.

Production Team Leader Lee Swan manages around 60 operators at the site in Perth, which manufactures silicon carbide heating elements for a variety of industries. With so many colleagues and so many different parts of the production process, Lee knows what’s needed to become a good operator. “A willingness to learn and being a good team player,” he says.

Recruitment agencies help Lee in the continual search for suitable candidates. He values individuals with high integrity, and mentions some further criteria:

  • Hard-working
  • Flexible
  • Willing to multitask
  • Dedicated to deadlines and delivery dates

Process Engineer Bryony Harper adds “ability to concentrate” to that list. “In some operations, the ability to maintain focus while carrying out repetitive tasks is extremely important,” she says in reference to keeping the highest health and safety standards

“We need operators who will adopt our safety culture,” Bryony says. “Operators who will speak up immediately if they feel something is not correct.”

As a Process Engineer, Bryony works closely with operators whose knowledge helps her identify areas of improvement. In that sense, production isn’t linear, she points out, as operators feed back into the process by monitoring results, quality testing, and adjusting machine settings. “The operator’s ability to gather information about non-conforming product gives us process engineers the necessary information to rectify the problem,” she says.

Together with the quality department and production support, Bryony can put the input from the operators to use when she responds to enquiries from sales about manufacturing new products. “That’s why I value people who are willing to bring their ideas to the table,” she concludes.

NOTE: Kanthal also has production sites in Sweden, Germany, US, France, India, China and Japan

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