We chat today to James Billingsley who joined Mechtech Automation Group as a mechanical engineering apprentice in 2014. Today James is part of the Technical Sales Engineering team.

Congratulations James on 8 years with Mechtech Automation Group! What does the technical sales role involve?

I must admit it doesn’t feel like I’ve been here 8 years! My role involves direct communication with our wonderful customers, both past, present and future, to understand their need for automation to improve their facilities and factory working. I also work with the various teams here at Mechtech to ensure we achieve the best results through collaborative thinking and discussions.

You began your career as an engineering apprentice. With the current skills shortage, how important is it to upskill people in the manufacturing industry?

With technology in the manufacturing industry growing rapidly and the engineering skills shortage increasing also, it is extremely important to ensure that we nurture future engineers to keep up with the demand of the industry. It is also important that we train and upskill future engineers to understand the basic principles that will take them onto a future in various areas of engineering, such as CAD design, mechanical building and software development to name a few. Apprenticeships are a vital part of this journey as having the theory is sometimes not enough, with certain industry employers requiring potential candidates to also have experience in this sector.

Mechtech Automation Group delivers integrated smart factory solutions to a range of sectors. What are the biggest challenges of the role?

I would say the biggest challenge is being able to adapt to each enquiry as we cover a range of industries from medical to aerospace. Understanding the needs of our customers to exacting levels of detail is sometimes a challenge but this can be overcome with good communication and a keen eye for detail which the entire team here at Mechtech is known for. With Industry 4.0 out of its infancy stage, we have had to adapt to this at a rapid rate, which at times has been a challenge, but with the tenacity of our great team we have achieved the reliable automation our customers have come to expect of us.

 Mechtech’s vision is to shape the Smart Factories of the future. How important is this commitment in digital manufacturing to stay ahead of the competition?

The buzzword is definitely Smart Factories and has been for some time now, so a commitment to this vision for the future is essential at Mechtech. By doing the work required now, from controls through to design, it allows us to meet the demands of our customers who want to invest in this engineering route going forward. An example of this could be our fantastic user interface on our suite of Robopods which allows our customers to fully integrate Robopod automation into their ever changing and improving factories. By implementing our automation into our customers’ facilities, it enables their workforce to become skilled in other areas, furthering their careers.

Lastly, what do you most enjoy about your role, I imagine no two days are the same working for such an innovative company.

I love the diverse range of technologies we get to use here…it really is like science fiction brought to life! I also enjoy using CAD one day and then brainstorming ideas for the next piece of automation the next day. It really breaks up the monotony associated with so many other jobs out there and for this reason alone, engineering at Mechtech provides me with something new and interesting to do every day!