19 May, 2017

From aircraft to automated warehousing

Nick had an open mind after leaving the Royal Air Force as an Aircraft Technician. Then he saw that we were recruiting for multi-skilled engineers at our Castle Donington Distribution Centre. At the time, it wasn’t so much the appeal of working in automated warehousing that caught his eye, but the M&S logo. “This was an employer that had stature,” he says, “a company that could offer me support and progression.”

That was in 2012. Since then, he has progressed to Shift Manager before landing his present job – Engineering Training and Planning Manager. Castle Donington Distribution Centre is 900,000 sq. ft. of the latest technology which allows us to hold up to 16 million products and deliver over two million a week to M&S stores and online customers.

Nick has a dual role. First of all he manages the planned maintenance of an extensive range of equipment, but he also oversees the training requirements for both legal compliance and individual development within our Engineering department, which includes bringing on our Apprentices. Perhaps influenced by his Royal Air Force background, Nick personally helps to deliver our Working at Height training!

It’s been a big career shift for Nick. “It’s very different to what I was used to,” he acknowledges. “At M&S, customer delivery is the number one priority,” he says. “You can’t just stop the automation as it impacts the activities of a number of different departments, so maintenance has to be planned in advance and in line with low volumes. And if there’s an issue, we have to work quickly but safely to fix it.”

There are plenty of opportunities for engineers to develop their skills and knowledge at Castle Donington. After all, with nine miles of hanging garments, 39 high-bay cranes, four dynamic buffers and much more at the site, you wouldn’t expect anything else! “There are tailored courses we organise with external providers, which are specific to our types of equipment,” Nick says. “We also offer on-site, in-house compliance training, such as climbing and rescue training, to make sure we are all working safely.”

We take on Engineers from both mechanical and electrical disciplines, but technical expertise is not everything. “For me, the most important traits are drive and determination,” Nick says. “Engineers need to have a mature head on their shoulders and treat tasks with respect. A logical approach to fault-finding and knowledge of automated logistical systems is useful, too. And of course, you need a head for heights!”

If you’ve got all that, you could be following in Nick’s footsteps – whatever your background.

To find out more and apply for an Engineering opportunity at M&S, click here

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