A student project which has led to significant safety improvements at North East-based Teesport has won Daniel McDougal, an engineering apprentice at PD Ports, runner-up prize in the Skills Showcase 2009 event.
For the project, part of a four-year course for the Higher National Certificate in Engineering, Daniel designed a mechanical grab trailer to make it safer to fix the grabs to cranes on the dock, at Teesport.
The grabs are attached to the Port’s Gottwald cranes and are used for discharging up to 30 bulk cargo vessels in a year at Teesport and Hartlepool docks.
Tony Dolan, PD Ports’ engineering superintendent says the system is already implemented and used daily. “The process of fixing the grab to the crane had been identified as a possible safety/resource issue. Daniel has helped to come up with a great innovative solution. It has already helped improve our safety record.”
Mr. Dolan said he was impressed by the high quality of the entries in the Skills Showcase at the Hartlepool College of Further Education, with all types of businesses represented. “It is great to see an event which promotes engineering excellence and it helps us benchmark our apprentices against others. Daniel’s second place reinforces the true benefits of our training programmes and demonstrates, as a business, we are on the right track.”
Two other PD Ports apprentices also took part in the Skills Showcase event - Mark Gates with his dynamo-powered bicycle safety lighting system and James Cowley with his flood defence system. “All participants should be congratulated on their individual presentations,” added Mr Dolan.
Russell McCallion, PD Ports’ group HR director said PD Ports recognizes that events such as the Skills Showcase are good for the business and for the apprentices themselves. “This sort of involvement clearly demonstrates the commitment that PD Ports, our local training provider, NETA Training Group and the whole engineering team have to delivering the best possible support to our apprentices.”
PD Ports currently has five apprentices at various stages in their four-year courses to become fitters, electricians or other skilled technicians, and also encourages other employees to attain NVQ and HNC certificates. Since the tailored training programme began some seven years ago PD Ports has successfully led 22 young people through their apprenticeships.
“Investment doesn't stop at the trainee level. We currently have two former apprentices attending university on day release on company-sponsored degree courses. Training is also a legal requirement necessary to meet the needs of modern industry. It was very comforting to see all types of industry collectively investing in the youth of tomorrow,” concluded Mr McCallion.