Metal processing and foundry careers
  • Casting is the pouring of molten metal into a mould
  • Forging is the shaping of metal using pressing or force
  • Rolling is the shaping of forms into metals using rollers
  • Treatment is the changing of the properties of materials by applying heat, surface coating, etc

Metals and foundry roles are associated with the control of these processes.

The practical roles often involve work on the shop floor controlling heavy and hot equipment, which require a strong attention to health and safety.
Roles are often technical and involve the setting and measurement of temperatures, times and material composition. More theoretical roles involve design of tooling and metallurgy.

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What skills do I need
  • Good communication skills
  • Strong maths skills
  • Good team-working skills
  • A methodical approach to work
  • An understanding of metals processes and properties of metals
  • An awareness of health and safety
  • Prepared to work in a foundry environment.
Below are Case Studies of successful people who followed this path.
Adam Walker - Quality Engineer
Apprenticeship > Employment > Degree
Introduction

Adam did his work experience at Somers Forge when he was at school and this helped him secure an apprenticeship there.

Why choose this route?

Adam choose this route and feels that
“the experience and skills on the job are really important – I am lucky I have been able to study and get the qualifications as well as the experience.”

What happened?

Adam did his work experience at Somers Forge – his Scout Leader worked there and he thought it sounded interesting. The work experience led to Adam’s apprenticeship. Adam did a National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering and studied Non-Destructive Testing. “The money was low to start – but I was gaining skills and experience and the company supported all my training fees and day release.”

After completing his initial certificate Adam progressed onto his HNC which took two years to complete part time. Adam continued his studies and has completed a Mechanical Engineering degree.

Once he completed his degree, Adam progressed to a Quality Engineer role within Somers Forge. This involves general problem solving, analysis of root cause, maintenance of records and standards, dealing with customers and managing supply chain.

“At the age of 17 I was working on parts for a nuclear submarine - how many people can say that!”
Somers Forge - Halesowen

Somers Forge has a large site employing about 120 people in both forging and machining large steel parts. The hot forge is one of the largest in the Black Country and produces very large components. In particular, they forge and machine propeller shafts for naval ships and submarines.

Nathan Tucker - Foundry Technical Apprentice
A Levels > Vocational > Apprenticeship >Employment
Introduction

Nathan began his apprenticeship within Thomas Dudley’s foundry division. Engineering was an automatic career choice as several members of Nathan’s family already worked in the profession.

Why choose this route?

Nathan chose the apprenticeship route as he felt it would provide a springboard into the engineering profession – “my apprenticeship is really challenging, I thoroughly enjoy it and none of my friends are doing what I am doing.”

What happened?

After leaving school, Nathan studied A levels before deciding to embark upon an engineering apprenticeship. His father who works for GKN, manufacturing Rolls Royce drive shafts was influential in the career choice and helped Nathan to secure work experience during the summer.

After the summer, Nathan went to Sandwell Training Association. Shortly afterwards, he saw the position at Thomas Dudley. Paul Lewis, Foundry Technical Manager, at Thomas Dudley added “we needed to invest in apprentices and therefore held an open day. We saw about seven people and Nathan really stood out.”

Nathan has continued his apprenticeship and is currently undertaking Level 3. He plans to then study a foundation degree via distance learning through Bradford University as none of his local universities are able to offer such a degree. The company will pay the fees and Paul Lewis will provide additional mentoring and support.

Nathan’s typical day involves coordinating new products, production planning, pattern and core making, casting, metal preparation, casting finishing and checking dimensions by 3D scanning.

“The work experience was really useful and enabled me to earn money whilst learning a number of new skills including how to read engineering drawings. Being at work really did open my eyes. The workplace is very different to school and things like timekeeping are important because if you’re late, you don’t get paid!”
Thomas Dudley Ltd - Dudley

Thomas Dudley Ltd is a long established firm employing about 270 people. The foundry division designs and makes cast iron components used in a diverse range of industry sectors. In particular, they make the UK’s largest range of construction and plumbing castings.

Production processes and methods in the Black Country
Metals and Foundry business cover the rolling, forging, casting and surface treatment of metals. The Black Country is the centre of the UK casting industry, employing 6,000 people in the region. There are many Black Country companies with roles in this sector including:- AME Pressure Diecasting Ltd, Bradken Ltd, Brockhouse Group, Brockmoor Foundry Co Ltd, Caparo Group, Bridge Aluminium Ltd, Cooper Coated Coil Ltd, DAC Industries, Mueller Europe Ltd, Newby Foundries Ltd, Hadley Group, Metal Assemblies Ltd, Metsec and Wedge Galvanising.
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