Friday, 14 February 2020

A New Revolution: My Time at Tinsley Bridge

Mark Harris, Cohort 2018

I worked at Tinsley Bridge for the second half of my internship last year, and this placement was rather different from my previous placement at Professional Energy Purchasing in many ways, but still had many similarities. Energy efficiency and turning to green sources of power are very hot topics nowadays, and my time at Tinsley Bridge was focussed on making the factory more efficient.

The previous position was more about marketing and promoting the company externally whereas at Tinsley Bridge, my work was more about improving efficiencies internally. I worked with SELA industry partner Alex Kelly in the IT department. The placement came about after asking Head of SELA Gary Wood for help with securing a placement - if you’re struggling to find a placement, Gary is the man to talk to, trust me! The idea of working at Tinsley Bridge really caught my interest, so Gary connected me with Alex.

I should stress at this point that my background is in mechanical engineering. Through my course I have little to no exposure to programming, coding or IT in general, other than using MATLAB every now and again. So, this placement certainly threw me in at the deep end, but I kept my head above the water.

The first project I was assigned involved a lot of electronics and programming. Fortunately, I have become pretty handy with a soldering iron over the years, through the university and from fixing scalextric cars when I was a lot younger. This skill proved very useful, but my coding skills were really lacking. However, thanks to Alex’s patience and experience he guided me through the programming language’s syntax (C++) and I managed to produce my first project at Tinsley Bridge. This project was a thermocouple used to monitor the quench tanks, which would also relay information back to a central server for reporting live on the factory shop floor. All of this is part of the Internet of Things (IoT) which is something that is becoming bigger and bigger in the industry, IoT is a big part of what experts term the 4th Industrial Revolution.

I also gained a lot of experience working with PowerBI, which is a Microsoft business intelligence product, and functions like a souped-up version of Excel with extra benefits like data transformation and data modelling. Once the data are modelled and transformed, this acts as a self-serving reporting tool for the managers and as well as dashboards for the shopfloor. Within the program, there are two different coding languages, Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) and M, which is used in the database queries. I was tasked to use this software to produce reports for the maintenance teams, showing them when their machines had breakdowns and when they were available.

This placement has taught me some valuable skills, which I hope to take forward into my next placement and onward into my future career.

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