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Placement year success for Engineering student at Muller

Posted 5 October

"His improvement activities included a significant reduction in line downtime, contributing to the improved efficiency to manufacture on site."

Adam stands in front of Muller signage

A Harper Engineering student has made a significant contribution to a global business during his placement year. 

Adam Stephen, 22, successfully improved the Overall Equipment Effectiveness of Muller manufacturing and has created vast sustained improvement to the Telford branch of the business. 

The MEng Mechanical Engineering student was tasked with multiple roles within the organisation to drive positive business benefits across functional key performance indicators. 

Beth Simpson, Continuous Improvement Manager at Muller Telford, commented on Adam’s work, saying: “His improvement activities included a significant reduction in line downtime, contributing to the improved efficiency to manufacture on site. 

“The most significant project he worked on throughout his placement was a study on capacity within Muller Telford. We negotiated outcomes early in the project, which Adam’s project has more than delivered against. 

“The project had been thoroughly scoped from the beginning and Adam gained a significant ‘voice of the customer’ to ensure that he worked in the most impactful areas. Through identifying, sharing and implementing improvements in the planning process at Telford, the site is now seeing a significant increase in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). 

“The planning process improvements have been a major contributing element to the increase in OEE which has enabled the site to commit to increased volume, which is directly linked to the long-term business plan objective of manufacturing 500 million pots annually. 

“The improvements at Telford have been recognised by the wider business, specifically gaining positive feedback from the Muller Yogurts and Desserts Operations Director.” 

Adam’s initial interest in this sector originated in his second year after studying a Manufacturing and Operations Management module. Learning about tools and techniques that can be utilised to improve effectiveness and profitability of a company, Adam sought out a working opportunity that would allow him to explore these concepts. 

Following a year of success, Adam has learned many new skills to bring back to campus in his final year. He said: “It is difficult to choose just one thing because of the sheer magnitude of learnings that I will take into the subsequent years of my career. 

“I have worked with a lot of different people in my time at Muller, all of whom have given me a different perspective on a range of topics. Spanning from learning about market trends with the site manager, down to the lines of code that the systems are built on with the site automation engineer and everything in between. 

“If I had to pick one thing, I would say the biggest development I have made is that of my soft skills. Communication is a vital part of a successful business and is especially important when presenting technical information. Due to the large number of people from different backgrounds who I have communicated with during this role, I have had to ensure that I could get my point across. This is something that will stick with me and I will continue to improve.” 

Looking to the future, Adam said: “Without the risk of sounding cliché, my main ambition is to never stop improving. I enjoy the process of solving problems and so wherever I end up, that will be the main goal. 

“More specifically, I have a project lined up for my fourth year within a manufacturing company, so, short term, the aim is to ensure that I complete that in such a way that it will add value to the business. Long term, I would like to work as a continuous improvement specialist.” 

Having chosen Harper for the industry placement opportunity, alongside the learning facilities and links to the wider agricultural field, Adam is confident he will be an industry ready engineer upon completion of his degree and is excited to see where his career will take him. 

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