Adam Kinge-Whiteley, Engineering Manager

Department: Engineering

"Engineering works closely with all departments onsite. We work really well together and tackle any challenge as a team."

Engineering at Exeter

“Four and a half years ago I joined ForFarmers as the Engineering Manager at ForFarmers Exeter Mill. The mill has recently undergone a significant amount of investment and the team and I have been heavily involved in the redevelopment project. The mill was first opened in 1974 and has been operating ever since, even during the redevelopment project. We supply customers across the South and South West of England, this includes the other side of London all the way down to Penzance in Cornwall.”

“We are a small team of multi-skilled engineers and are tasked with planning and carrying out preventative maintenance for all of the machines and equipment in the mill along with dealing with any reactive maintenance as and when required to ensure production can continue within the mill. The engineering team also assist with external contractors who may visit to service or inspect a specific piece of equipment or area.”

“During the day time we have approximately 12 people who work within the mill. They are from various department including planning, production and engineering. During the night shift there are 3 members of the production team who keep everything running. Together our teams operate on a 4 shift system which allows us to operate 24/7. Their safety and wellbeing is paramount. Every day throws up new challenges and as the Engineering Manager I am responsible for all of the engineering on the site, as a result I have to work closely with all of the departments in order to achieve safety and efficiency within our systems.”

Exeter in the 1970s
Exeter in the 1970's
Exeter Final
Exeter in 2020

Every day is different

“I start the day by arriving at the mill at around 7:30am, turn my laptop on to check emails and see if I have any meetings to attend. I then check in with the production and planning team to see if there has been any issues overnight or may be approaching in the near future. It is then time for a meeting with my team of engineers to discuss the maintenance plan and their tasks for the day. There are usually a number of tasks so we have to prioritise the jobs and once everyone sets off, I go for a walk around the whole mill. If contractors are onsite I complete the necessary work permits and review what work they will be carrying out”.

“At 9am we have our site morning meeting which we are currently doing through Skype, this gives all the head of departments on site an overview of the last 24 hours and any impact or issues which need addressing as a result. This is also where we talk about scheduling in any shutdown time required for upcoming maintenance”.

“I then log into Integrum which is our health and safety and environmental reporting system. I input any incidents or observations reported. From this point my day can be very fluid, I may have some site meetings, preparation work for upcoming audits, or calls with project teams to discuss, plan and evaluate site projects. Some days my role can be very practical and hands on. For example if there is a large maintenance task planned it may require the whole team to get involved in order to get it completed with minimal down time or carrying out trials, data gathering and proof of concept work before a major project”.

Overcoming challenges

“In relation to the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a need to plan for different scenarios and manning levels. Where possible the engineers are now set on tasks they can complete whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines. I have also been in constant communication with suppliers to acquire additional sanitising equipment and PPE to enable all site based personnel not able to work from home to operate as safely as possible. In addition we have increased communications with suppliers and contractors, limited site visits and removed non-essential contractors from the site.”

“As a site team we have broken down some of the bigger maintenance tasks and instead of shutting down a line down for a longer period of time and completing a number of jobs, we are utilising shorter shutdowns, prioritising work and spreading it out over the next few months.”

“Any spare parts that are ordered are delivered to a ‘goods in shelf’ at the workshop entrance, with all delivery personnel required to wear gloves, a mask and maintain a social distance. Meetings are now conducted via skype and screen share which is working well.”

Engineering at Exeter ForFarmers

The best bits of the job

“In my role I enjoy how varied my day can be; there are rarely two days alike. At Exeter, engineering works closely with all departments. We are a close knit group who work really well and when challenges arise we tackle them together.”

“In relation to the engineering team, I couldn’t ask for more from the engineers. They are a great bunch who always go the extra mile when needed. I also work as part of the site management team, working with all the site department heads this helps keep the site running and together we introduce new initiatives and find solutions to challenges.”

“I have been fortunate to work at a site that has benefitted from a major investment project which consequently has been a big engineering challenge from start to finish, it’s definitely been one for the books.”