Meet the man in the machine shop.
Being part of the Hythe Marine Services (HMS) team means working alongside highly skilled individuals who are leaders in their fields. Just within the machining side of the business alone there are a huge range of in-house abilities and specialist knowledge. Some of the services provided include bespoke Precision Machining and CNC Profiling for one-offs and small batch capabilities.
Every single project has rigorous quality checks, both throughout and after completion. As well as this, the company focuses on continuous improvement for procedures and staff development.
Imagine being given a piece of machinery you’ve never seen before and then being asked to recreate it within a couple of days. This is one of the common challenges faced by the Hythe Marine Machine Shop team.
Before joining Hythe Marine seven months ago one member of that team had been in the aircraft industry for twenty-one years. Straight out of school he began his apprenticeship with Highbury College and J M Automatics. During these four transformative years he developed skills he still uses on a daily basis. These years included his first experiences of tool-making, and learning how to replicate, in precision detail, a bespoke object.
Since the start of this young machinists career, he has worked hard to continually learn and perfect his skills, stating that, “The harder you work on a project, the more pride you have when you finally see the finished result!”
This drive and dedication meant it wasn’t long before he was on the production line where projects were varied and challenging, building parts for helicopters and aircraft as well as pretty much any other bespoke items requested by customers. After many great years at J M Automatics he felt it was time for new challenges and for the last 7 months has been a Mechanical Fitter/Machinist at Hythe Marine Services.
Moving to a new industry and company after 21 years takes courage. Gone was the familiar environment and in its place were dockyards, boating terminology and Navy abbreviations. Initially, this change was a struggle but the welcoming atmosphere at Hythe Marine meant this machinist quickly settled in and became part of the team.
Even with years of experience in the tool making industry, there are always new problems to solve. Working at Hythe can be a high-pressure job with numerous teams working in tandem to get the job done. Much of the work is an internal process with raw materials coming in and leaving as high quality finished products.
“There are the welders who work with the Pipe Fitters, who work with the Fabricators, who work with the Machine Shop. There are so many trades coming together to create a great finished product. Every day is a learning curve, even to me who’s been doing this for 22 years. A lot of the projects are bespoke one-offs that require reverse engineering to recreate an object. This process of working out the mechanics behind an item is something I’ve enjoyed since childhood.”
Being a Hythe Machinist involves a lot of work on the manual milling machine, which uses cutters to create horizontal and vertical profiles, and drill or tap holes.
“My previous company required me to work to extremely precise, millimetric accuracy measurements. Precision that is still present in my work at Hythe.”
What the Hythe Marine machine shop is working on often depends on customer’s drawings, specifications and timeframes. The wide range of knowledge and skills within the team means Hythe Marine are able to manufacture and install all types of systems. This spans from complex pipe systems through to structural and non-structural fabrication.
Occasionally the team comes across parts that are unknown, so there are always opportunities to learn and improve.
“If the customer wants it, and Hythe is able to do it, we just get it done.”
When asked what to say to someone considering working at Hythe Marine, they simply said, “If there’s an opportunity at Hythe Marine then grab it with both hands and don’t let go. Training and opportunities here are invaluable.”
A clear theme from this chat was the familial atmosphere at Hythe. From his very first day, it was clear he felt like part of the team, with everybody always ready to help each other out. “If you’re ever struggling with something, somebody will always stop and help you out. From the apprentices to the experienced heads, they all have a minute to help. Everyone’s friendly and working together. It’s a really nice place to work.”