19th June 2012
Entry 2 – Straight in the deep end
Diary of an Apprentice
“ To begin this last fortnight I was put straight into the deep end with some intensive training on some CNC machinery. Instead of being controlled manually, by hand wheels or levers, CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machinery is directed by means of a computer program. In my workplace these programs are ordinarily written by the operator, which is what I am currently focusing on learning. The programming dictates everything from the movement of tools and speed of spindle, to turning on and off the coolant fluid; so there are plenty of codes and patterns to memorise in order to use the machines to their full potential… but practice makes perfect, so the few days I spent on the CNC lathe were an invaluable experience.
Due to sales made at the recent Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, we had some urgent orders come in to manufacture two complete underwater sets. So the opportunity was opened for me to further my skills on the CNC turret lathe. I was partnered with one of the experienced tradesmen in the workshop. He took me through the process of programming and machining the components required, including four 2¾” drive shafts with suitable couplings for each shaft.
The programming itself isn’t so much of a challenge for me; though when everything else is piled on top, it becomes quite difficult to embed everything I have been taking in. Being organised is a key part in becoming a good tradesman. Every little part helps, from keeping a clean organised tool box to having a notepad and pen on hand whenever you may need it. It may seem simple, but trust me… it plays a massive role in keeping the workshop running smoothly and keeping your workmates happy.
Apart from the CNC training, I also had a routine visit from my apprenticeship trainer. Unlike most apprentices I know, I don’t do block units at TAFE, but rather I train onsite by a private training company. At the moment I am working through one of the larger units, Perform General Machining, whilst also completing some smaller units at the same time. Due to the one-on-one style of training, I find that I am developing through the theory side of my apprenticeship really well. My trainer understands where he can move quickly, and where he needs to slow down and focus more on certain parts. Plus I am able to ask questions about things I have learnt in the workshop between his visits, which I find really helpful.
Though with all that being said, the highlight of the last fortnight would have to be the MIGAS BBQ hosted at work last Friday. It was good to catch up with both my current and past HRDO, as well as being able to give a tour of the workshop to some other MIGAS staff members. It’s surprising how much you actually do remember when you start explaining it to someone else; I hope I was actually remembering everything correctly… ”