My name is Callum Harkus and I’m an apprentice in the Pumps department. I recently started my apprenticeship, so I’ve been working here for four months now.
On an average day we all start by getting together in a morning for our brief, so we know what we’re doing for the day, how we’re going to do it and who’s doing what. Most days are different depending what kind of work we have in. Sometimes there are extra jobs to do, like having to paint a pump before it goes back out to the customer, but most of the time I’ll work on a job from start to finish. I enjoy that as I like to see a job through. There’s a big responsibility too, knowing that the business is relying on you to work hard and do the job well.
One of my responsibilities is dismantling pumps when they come in, noting anything that’s broken. You can then spend weeks and weeks working on a job so it’s a good feeling when you’ve got all the new parts fitted, you’ve overcome what was wrong and the pump is working as it should be. My favourite part of the job is rebuilding pumps after we’ve repaired them, seeing them fit back together and work properly.
At the moment I’m working on a big multi-stage pump, which took a week and a half just to take apart. It’s the biggest pump I’ve worked on so far. I’ve been working on it since it came in and I’ll see it through until it goes back out to the customer.
I always knew I wanted to work in engineering: I studied it at school before starting here, but it’s still a big jump coming into the workplace. There’s a lot of knowledge to pick up very quickly. I didn’t expect to be fixing things hands-on straight away but you’re encouraged to do things yourself and learn that way – that’s one of the best bits of the job.
It was pretty full on at first, but after you’ve learnt something the first time it just gets easier every time you do it. Eventually you don’t even realise you’re doing it. In the time I’ve been here I’ve learned a lot, including how to accurately measure component parts, read bearings, diagnose problems and pressure test pumps.
I do see myself progressing in electro mechanical engineering in the future, and I’d also like the opportunity to be creative. At Houghton International I’d say there are opportunities to do anything you really want to – I could work with CAD design and have chance to work on projects that give me more opportunities to use my creativity and add my own touch.
For anyone considering a role like mine, I’d advise them that they need to be very hands-on and patient. If you’re watching someone else do something it can look easy, but when you’re doing it yourself you need to be very precise. There are often lots of small adjustments and changes to be made. If something isn’t working as planned you need to be able to adapt so it’s important to have a problem-solving attitude.
There’s a good atmosphere here. You have a lot of responsibility and you’re trusted to put the work in. You come in and you know you’ve got to work hard, but everyone gets on well and has a good laugh too, so it makes the day fly.