I started out as a manufacturing apprentice with AZ in September 2017. I’m a local lad from Macclesfield, and when my grandad was diagnosed with cancer, he was treated with medicine made by AZ right here. I saw first-hand how the medicines they produce help people. That was why I was attracted to an apprenticeship with the company.
Manufacturing excellence is all about making processes better and more efficient.
If everything is running at its best, machines on a manufacturing line can produce more than 8000 blister packs of medicine in an hour. Over a 14-hour shift, that’s over 112,000 packs. That’s a lot of medicines for a lot of people.
My job is to try and make that process as smooth as possible and minimise the amount of ‘down time’ on the lines. You can have down time for many reasons – like machine maintenance or label changes for example.
For my apprenticeship, I do one day a week studying at Macclesfield College and 4 days on the job. When I’m in the office my day usually starts with morning team meetings, to review how the line has worked the day before, whether there’s been any down-time overnight and why, and how we can improve that. Then I work with the team to help them make changes.
I spend a lot of time analysing data on a computer. Our systems monitor down time, and you need to be able to look at that data, understand it and apply it to what’s going on in the real world.
I would recommend a job in this industry. It’s really interesting, but you have to be able to understand and interpret data. The apprenticeship helps you learn how to do that. It’s only by knowing what’s going on in the data that you can improve the processes on the line. You have to have the right communication skills to explain what’s going on and work with the team properly. You have to be proactive, and not be afraid to come forward with your opinions on what is going on.
I’m going onto a new apprenticeship in manufacturing excellence in September this year. I’ve been studying engineering - this was more suited my previous role. When I start my new role I will be getting formal training and learning new tools – things like problem solving, visual management and standardisation.
I definitely want to stay in this industry; it’s very rewarding. You feel proud that you are making something that helps people – like my grandad. They may not know who you are, but you take pride anyway.
I’m a local lad from Macclesfield, and when my grandad was diagnosed with cancer, he was treated with medicine made by AZ right here. I saw first-hand how the medicines they produce help people.
Jamie Harvey, Apprentice at AstraZeneca