Case study

Industrial engineer and KTP associate — Karem Akoul

Karem studied for an MSc in Advanced Mechanical Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University. He's now an industrial engineer at CP Cases after participating in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

How did you get your job?

During the last semester of my MSc degree I was advised by my dissertation supervisor to search for KTP projects, where graduates get the chance to implement strategic developments within innovative companies.

CP Cases had established a KTP project with Queen's University Belfast and a graduate industrial engineer was required on a 30-month project to implement a new rotational moulding factory and optimise the assembly line of rotomolded products.

My job search was primarily focused on sheet metal product design, as that is my area of expertise. However, the variety of industries CP Cases are involved in and the immense amount of experience I knew I would gain from this opportunity made me apply for the job.

I was offered the job a month before my MSc final exams and moved to London straight after graduation.

Why did this area of work appeal to you?

As a recent graduate gaining experience is important and I knew that I'd gain a vast amount from this job, so this was my main driver. No other opportunities compared to being able to manage an end-to-end project and being able to get involved in all stages of setting up a new factory from planning and designing to costing and execution.

What's a typical day like?

Being responsible for a long-term project means that the tasks I'm involved in change on a regular basis as the project moves from one phase to another. In general, typical tasks during the research and planning phase involved researching rotational moulding and available systems, initiating and developing the project plan, creating weekly progress reports, identifying the projected capital expenditure of the project and developing a feasibility study to validate the ROI of the project.

During the design phase, I used Solidworks to build a full CAD model of the factory with all machines, tools and equipment. I also used VR to simulate the process flow in the factory.

In the execution phase, which is the current project stage, my week starts with meeting with contractors to schedule work, tracking all expenditures, contacting potential suppliers and preparing for the movement of the target assembly line to the new factory.

Concurrently, I get involved in smaller design projects in the field of sheet metal and foam engineering.

Describe your job in five words…

Skilled, challenging, motivating, innovative and flexible.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Applying new ideas to factory design. The use of 3D CAD and VR helped us reach the optimum factory design prior to execution.

The diversity of industries that I deal with at CP Cases is outstanding. CP Cases has different production lines in the fields of sheet metal, textiles, plywood, foam engineering and rotational moulding and as an industrial engineer I get the chance to deal with all the assembly lines and explore new fields, both from the design and manufacture point of view.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge in constructing a new factory and establishing a streamlined assembly line is dealing with the project's stakeholders in a way that does not affect the overall progress of the project.

Keeping an eye on all contractors and making sure the work goes in correspondence with the engineering drawings is also a major challenge.

Another challenge in optimising an assembly line is eliminating all the elements of waste and minimising the downtime.  

What skills are important in your role?

  • CAD experience
  • programming skills
  • project management knowledge
  • basic knowledge of finance
  • design skills.

What are your career ambitions?

In the short term my main career ambition is to keep gaining experience and knowledge in the fields of design, manufacturing and production as I believe they are all related.

I am currently undergoing a set of courses in project management, working towards my long term goal of becoming a production manager.

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