Meet Tom Halliday
Mechanical Engineering Apprentice At Hydraquip Blaydon
Growing up my Dad’s job was a mechanic and having always been interested in this we spent a lot of our spare time fixing and repairing cars together. I knew that I wanted to work in this field as I liked being hands on, so when I grew older and after leaving school I got my first job through the Job Centre. I began working at Hydraquip Hose & Hydraulics Blaydon on an 8 week work program helping with a variety of duties in the warehouse including picking and packing, booking goods in and out, and organising stock. At the end of the program, Hydraquip’s Regional Director Fintan Ennis asked if I would be interested in completing an Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship with Hydraquip. I happily accepted and am currently half way through my 4 year apprenticeship which started in April 2013.
I spend one day per week at college where I learn different modules which help me through my work at Hydraquip such as on automation systems, mechanical engineering, mechanical processes and computer aided design. I enjoy all the modules that I learn at college, there isn’t one that I dislike and I really enjoy being able to take the theory that I learn at college and applying it to the jobs I carry out at Hydraquip, getting stuck in and getting my hands dirty. I am based at Hydraquip’s Blaydon branch working on machinery that comes into the Repair Centre to be diagnosed, then repaired or have components replaced. The hydraulic equipment that I work on the most are pumps which require me to disassemble them, assess the reason for the breakdown or faulty component and reseal them, or checking the connections on motors. I have been supported along the way while at Hydraquip with my colleague Bob Carson teaching me additional skills needed in the industry such as welding clamps to machinery and bending steel pipe work, a very worthwhile skill to have as most machinery and powerpacks have some steel pipe work on them.
During my time at Hydraquip so far I have been lucky enough to be involved in some larger and more demanding projects. For 10 weeks I worked with Doug Campbell to build a powerpack for a global energy company who wanted to test the fatigue of wind turbines. The customer approached Hydraquip and spoke to Doug outlining all of their requirements and from there, backed by his years of experience in the industry, Doug designed a complete powerpack unit tailored to the customer’s needs. Due to the application of the powerpack, this unit was specially built by myself and Doug to withstand higher pressures and flow rates. We fitted up to 6 pumps onto the unit, each pump with a flow rate of 60 l/min at a higher pressure than a standard powerpack, as well as fitting control panels, full hydraulic circuitry and pipe work. Another project which I was involved in with Bob and Doug was a powerpack unit that the RAF required for a flight simulator. For 6 weeks we built the powerpack from scratch, carefully designing and assembling the unit to suit the application, supporting and informing the customers throughout and assisting with the delivery, installation and commissioning of the unit.
I am currently working on a contracted project with Hydraquip’s mobile engineer Tom Donnelly. The project started 8 weeks ago with a view of continuing for another 12 months. Our jobs involve disassembling, reconditioning and replacing hydraulic hose assemblies on a range of rail equipment and machinery including a variety of diggers and cherry pickers.
As a young person who is new to the industry and the working environment, I can confidently say that I am really enjoying it, it’s a great experience and there’s always lots of work to be done to keep me busy. Hydraquip’s engineers are great people, they have always been very friendly and helpful and I am enjoying learning something new every day. Once I have finished my apprenticeship, I hope to progress within the company and become one of Hydraquip’s mobile hose engineers with my own van, putting all of my hydraulic knowledge into practice on site when a breakdown occurs within my area.
20th May 2015
Meet The Team