Sad about not winning, but really enjoyed the event. Congratulations Paige, you deserve it!
I’ve done lots of things: Cinema projectionist; ride operator at a theme park; quality engineer; 5 years as a satellite manufacturer (I really was a rocket scientist)
Sidhil Ltd. in Halifax
I work for a company that makes various different types of medical equipment and furniture. I love the fact that I’m able to use the skills I’ve learned at school and university to help poorly people feel better.
Sidhil makes all sorts of medical equipment and furniture to help people who are ill, recovering from illnesses and operations, and those people who are disabled. We make beds for hospital wards that have electrical controls to move the bed to a comfortable position; beds to be used in care homes and in people’s own house if they are well enough to be at home but still need an electrical bed to help them; a range of special mattresses to stop people getting pressure sores from being in bed for a long time; hoists and other helpful devices to help nurses care for people more easily; and lots of other things to help people while they are recovering.
There are about 150 people who work in Halifax – about 50 in the office with me, and the rest in the factory where there are lots of different activities that go on, such as welding; tube bending; mechanical assembly; powder coating (a type of painting); warehouses; transport; and many others.
I work in the technical department and use the skills I learned at school and university to design and develop lots of different types of medical equipment.
If you want to see more products that I work on the website is – www.sidhil.com – or ask me and I’ll tell you all I know.
One other thing that is quite special about where I work is that we have bee hives in the car-park! As the factory is very close to the moors there is a lot of heather around which bees like to get their nectar from. This means as well as making hospital beds, Sidhil also has it’s own brand of honey which we like to give away to customers when they visit us. I can see the bees from my office and I like to go visit them when I can (but not too close!).
My Typical Day
I spend most of my time investigating ideas for new products and improvements and making 3D models of them on the computer. I also spend a lot of time talking to customers over the phone or visiting hospitals to help with any questions or problems they might be having.
In the office
A large part of my day is spent at my desk developing new ideas and changing current products to make them better. This may be coming up with a new type of hospital bed, or working out ways to make something a bit cheaper so customers can afford them.
I design things on computer in 3D using something called Computer Aided Design (CAD). This means I can see what products will look like and how they will move before actually making anything for real.
In the workshop
Before you start making thousands of your new design you first need to test it to make sure it will work. This could either be on the computer (using something called FEA – Finite Element Analysis) to find out if it will be strong enough; or by making a physical model and performing various structural tests to see if it will break.
The workshop is where all the tests happen to prove that the design will be strong enough, so there are lots of different pieces of equipment that are able to perform different functions. Some tests need to be performed thousands of times so we often have to program computers to do the tests for us.
In the factory
Once the idea has been designed on a computer and tested, you need to turn those virtual models into real products. This is done in the factory where there are lots of skilled people who are able to cut, weld, paint, assemble, sew, package, and transport the product to the customers. Because there are so many people involved and we want to make things as quick and as well as possible, it is my job to create very clear drawings and instructions on how things go together.
What I'd do with the money
Set up some workshops based around playing with old-school construction toys. I want to get as much Lego Technic, Mechano and k’nex as I can, take them into schools, and just let the students see what they can do with different engineering concepts.
I reckon we can set up some challenges, like making the strongest, longest, fastest, lightest, tallest, smallest of all sorts of engineering machines structures and robots. Maybe have a competition to see which is the best construction toy.
Hopefully by trying things out and using all sorts of different gears and motors however they want, students can learn how different aspects of engineering work much more effectively than just reading about them on a screen or in a book.
The workshops would give students the opportunity to see engineering concepts in action, being able to use their hands to bring their concepts to life. They would have lots of colours, sounds and fun. Maybe we could get some learning in there too.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
A bit mad (at least that’s what my wife says)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Sailing a tall ship around the Baltic sea
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be able to put letters before or after my name (I’m allowed to do that now)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
I’ve touched things that are now in space
Tell us a joke.
There are 10 types of people in the world – those who understand binary numbers, and those who don’t
Here is the factory where I work, lovely views of the countryside and surrounding hills – I work down at the far end of the top floor.
Below are two of the products we make – the INNOV8 hospital bed, and the Inspiration Cot for babies. I really like the bright colours of the cot.
And here are some of the hardest workers at Sidhil. We have some beehives in the car park that are looked after by two of my managers – Alastair and David. The bees fly for miles around to find nectar to make the honey – which tastes delicious!
Honey has been used for thousands of years to provide healing and is still used today for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. So while we’re hard at work inside the factory making products to help people in their recovery, the bees are just as busy outside making their own contribution.