Breathing new life into old technology

May 07, 2020

Meet the apprentice keeping his colleagues connected

WHEN Matt Heaney took on an apprenticeship at Grundfos Pumps, he never dreamed he would be keeping his colleagues connected during a global pandemic.

Company employees are more dependent than ever on their laptops and smart phones in the coronavirus lockdown. If their technology is broken, they could be completely out of touch until replacement hardware can be found.  

Matt has been working on retired machines, bringing them up to spec and back on to the company system as ready-made replacements when the worst happens.

“It might be that someone has dropped a phone and the screen is destroyed or they have smashed the keyboard on a laptop,” he says.  “If we cannot get a replacement out to them quickly, they will not be able to work. Having older equipment ready to go means they can be up and running again in no time.”

Grundfos Pumps UK head office in Leighton Buzzard

The near global shutdown has meant getting spare parts, especially those made in China, is increasingly difficult. Those that are available online are rocketing in price so Matt’s electronic version of make do and mend is even more significant.

Support engineer analyst Roy Clapham, is Matt’s boss at Grundfos Pumps’ headquarters in Leighton Buzzard. He is due to retire soon and is teaching Matt, who is studying at Milton Keynes College, all he can so he can take over from him when the time comes.

“When we interviewed him you could tell he could handle a curve ball or two,” says Roy. “He is a quick learner and I am really pleased to be able to share with him the knowledge I have built up over the last 30 years or so.”

Roy believes the coronavirus crisis may have some positive permanent impacts on the way we all do business. “People are learning that they do not have to travel three hours each way for a two hour meeting but can do it online instead. Face-to-face meetings are just a waste of planetary resources when it can all be done online.  

“Maybe it takes a big upheaval like this for people to see the sense of it.” 

The apprenticeship partnership with Milton Keynes College works well, Roy adds.  “He goes into college on Mondays and we have meetings with his tutor every few weeks.  It means that his classroom learning and learning on the job knit well together,  with each feeding into the other.”

Matt is enjoying the mix of classroom work and earning while you learn. “It is great to be able to apply the knowledge I pick up in lessons in a real life situation,” he says. “The academic side seems so much more worthwhile because it has immediate practical use.”

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