Last August Zotefoams recruited three students to join the T-FIT® and lab teams as part of their one-year student placement. The aim of the programme is to provide broad business experience and the insight to help take the right step into a permanent role on graduation.
This is Katie’s story:
- How are you finding your experience at Zotefoams and working on T-FIT®?
My experience has been very enjoyable and educational, I have learnt so much about the working environment and the company. I enjoy working in two different departments for the duration of my year placement –I can communicate with people in other departments and learn from their experiences. Also, this gives me an opportunity to think about what I would like to do in the future. Working in T-FIT® two days each week has been a great opportunity to be a part of a huge development in the company, where I’m learning so much about product applications that I simply wouldn’t get studying in university.
- What have you learnt?
I have learnt the process involved with T-FIT® tube manufacturing from producing the foam sheet, to preparing the material in fabrication, to moulding the tube and performing quality control (QC) checks on the final product. For the moulding and QC checks, I now understand the effects for changing different variables involved with moulding such as the cycle time, mould size and initial material size.
In addition, I have used equipment for testing the insulation tubes that I would not have access to at university. I have written documents for new equipment (SOP/LOPs – safety/learning operating procedures) to help others understand how to use the apparatus safely.
I have also observed the behaviour of the material and effects of the tube at high temperatures to replicate the performances of the tubes in high temperature applications through my project work on long term heat ageing. From doing so, I have a better understanding and am currently investigating the personal protection ability for the insulation tubes at their maximum operating temperatures. I have also tested other competitor insulation tubes for comparisons to see where the T-FIT® product fits within the market and to define any benefits in comparison. In addition, I am currently working with the T-FIT® team to estimate the service life of the product under high temperatures.
- What do you enjoy most?
Throughout my time in T-FIT® I have enjoyed manging a variety of tasks depending on demand such as prototypes, small development projects to improve the aesthetics and using different materials, etc.
I enjoy being responsible for my own project work and making a positive impact on product development and am also proud of my contribution to increasing the company’s knowledge on the material/ T-FIT product. I enjoy talking to other people in different departments to learn about the part they play in the production of the tubes and putting into practice theoretical knowledge learned from my degree course (Materials Science and Engineering) in a way that I can see and understand the results.
- Which brands have you been working on? Clean, Process or Hygiene?
I have had the opportunity to work with all three brands – Clean, Process and Hygiene – from moulding tubes for optimisation and development of the product to testing the behaviour of the material and product to understand its long-term heat ageing properties.
- What challenges did you face when working on T-FIT®?
My biggest challenge is balancing and organising my time to work on my project – which is time sensitive – and other product development tasks while working in this department for only two days a week. Through this I have developed my time management and also my communication skills, as my project involves liaising with people across the organisation, from collecting material, preparing samples myself or by communicating with sample prep, planning my own experiments, performing the test, analysing the data and presenting my results in presentation or report form. I have also become flexible enough to manage tasks such as continuing work from the other placement students whilst simultaneously completing my own tasks.
- What are your future-plans?
After this placement I plan to continue studying and completing my Masters in Materials Science and Engineering. I intend to then work after graduation (not sure which field) and possibly become a Chartered Engineer.