Seventeen young apprentices – from age 17 to 21 – are working on a project to transform a 43-year-old Terex Trucks hauler back to its former glory. The R17 dump truck, which weighs 13.5 tonnes, will go on show at the Motherwell, Scotland, factory on completion.
Director and general manager of Terex Trucks, Paul Douglas, who started with the company as a graduate 30 years ago, commented: "The beauty of this project is that it gives the apprentices ownership of something from start to finish, learning a vast array of skills and the need for first class teamwork and communication, along the way. From my own graduate experience, I know how important this period in your working life is in building skills towards a future sustainable career.
"This is a highly successful project that will allow us to develop a longer term programme for the renovation of other old models. This is an invaluable opportunity for our apprentices as they work alongside seasoned team members across all functions of the business."
Four employees who worked on the original R17 truck still work at the factory and a fifth retired employee has recently returned to give the apprentices a hand.
Campbell Blake, who retired after 39 years' service last year, added: "Transforming a 43-year-old truck is no mean feat, even if it does have a much simpler operating system than the electronics used today. The apprentices are learning about the mechanics behind the original truck. By exploring the origins of the product it has really helped them understand the evolution of the truck designs compared to the trucks that we produce today."
Two apprentices – Fraser Blackwood and Edward Massey – are leading the project, mentored by Terex Trucks' employee Scott Dinning, with support from Frankie Connelly, John Donnelly, Stephen Bradley and Craig McSpadyen, as well as Campbell Blake, on various technical aspects relating to their work specialisms within the factory.
Fraser Blackwood, commented: "The truck was built in this facility in 1973 and worked most of its days at Leith Quarry in Aberdeenshire, so at 43 years old it's in a fairly rough state.
"There are many obstacles to overcome throughout this project, the main challenge was to get it functioning by manufacturing or sourcing replacement parts, especially as the original designs are all on paper and many parts have been discontinued for many years. We have already outsourced items such as the driver seat, engine and radiator, and Bridgestone is providing a full new set of tyres free of charge.
"Gathering information on the parts, sourcing suppliers, getting quotes and communicating on costs and lead times allows us to gain valuable experience that would not normally form part of our apprentice role. All of the apprentices are gaining experience in their specific discipline as well as learning a great deal about other aspects of the business and how they operate."
The R17 engine was sent to Cummins' facility in Cumbernauld, Scotland, where it was originally manufactured. Two Cummins' apprentices carried out the refurbishment and Terex Trucks' apprentices visited Cummins to see how they operate and their different working methods.
The 17 Terex Trucks apprentices were recruited through the East Kilbride Group Training Association and spend one day a week at college and four days in the factory over their four year apprenticeships. Now in its fourth year, the Terex Trucks apprentice programme will see the first apprentices graduate to become fully qualified fabricators, CNC operators and maintenance technicians. The programme is planned on identified future skills gaps in the business and is intended to lead to full-time jobs.