CNC apprentice is key to Cannock’s firm’s ventilator push
A 20-year-old CNC machining apprentice is playing a key role in manufacturing more than 150,000 critical parts for the NHS.
Jacob Benton is working with the manufacturing team at Cannock-based Key Precision to produce up to nine different components for use in the assembly of ventilators being built for the frontline.
The young engineer has programmed three different CNC machines to create five oxygen supply line parts, completing the complex task in just a few hours of receiving the order so the company can meet urgent timelines set by the consortium.
He has been studying towards his HNC Level 4 with Walsall's In-Comm Training.
“It’s great that I am putting what I’ve learned on my apprenticeship into action on such a crucial project that will help save lives,” explained Jacob, who has set his sights on gaining his B Eng degree and a future career in production management.
“Each part starts with us receiving drawings and then, from there, I write a CNC programme to produce the specified component.
"In order for us meet the deadlines expected and to give us the different tolerances required, I had to use three different CNC machines.”
He added: “There’s a real team ethic and this has been evident during this project, with a dedicated cell set-up for production and many of us working over 60 to 70 hours over the week and during the Easter holidays.”
Key Precision is a specialist manufacturer of precision turned parts, inserts for plastic and sheet metal fasteners, supplying high profile customers such as Aston Martin, Bentley, JCB and Rolls-Royce.
The company, which employs 25 people at its base on Phoenix Road, has worked with In-Comm Training for more than 20 years, accessing courses and forklift training for its workforce.
Jacob is the firm’s third apprentice, starting as a Level 2 machinist in 2017 before following the CNC pathway to achieve his Level 3 last year and now embarking on his HNC that will eventually lead to a degree.
Greg Jackson, engineering and quality director, added his support: “We are big fans of growing our own talent and actively look to recruit budding engineers who want to go to the very top of our business.
“Jacob is a prime example. From the minute he stepped on to the shop floor, he has shown a real appetite to learn from his peers, attack new challenges and use his own initiative to come up with solutions to problems.
“In-Comm Training has given him a fantastic grounding in engineering and the ability to continue to learn with our support. He really has been instrumental in the ventilator project.”
Jason Daniels, technical manager at In-Comm Training, concluded: “We are very proud of how Jacob has progressed, supported by an employer that really gets ‘apprentices’ and the value they can bring to a business.
“He’s well on course to secure his engineering degree in two years’ time and continue his progression at Key Precision. Learning on the job has certainly made a difference to how quickly his career has taken off.”