Reuben works in our plant in Stockholm, Sweden as Assistant Chief Engineer. Reuben studied Mechanical Engineering in Auckland, New Zealand before joining what was then Fresh Start Bakeries in Stockholm in 2010, just before Fresh Start Bakeries joined the ARYZTA family. His father (pictured below) already worked there and has been with the business for over 20 years. Reuben is also a fencing instructor in his free time, a sport that has been in his family for several generations!
So how did you become interested in Engineering?
Well it’s a funny story really. Half of my family are medical professionals, and the other half are engineers. I had originally planned to become a doctor and had been accepted to medical school when I changed my mind and decided to become an engineer. I realised that if I make a mistake as a doctor, someone could die. Of course if I make a mistake as an engineer lots of people could die!
What’s it like working as an Engineer in ARYZTA in Stockholm?
The Swedish production team is small, so employees really have to be multi skilled. Nobody is just a machinist, just a packaging specialist or just an operator. Everyone here knows how to do a lot of different things.
While there’s lots of job variety, that does have challenges. You can get overloaded. Demands can be high because you can do a lot. You can get a lot of different requests for different things, and people’s expectations of how long something can take may not match up with the reality. But you can’t cook while building the kitchen! To manage this you have to constantly make decisions as to which is most important.
In the engineering department here we often hire people at apprentice level where they go through two years of development. It’s easier to teach our own guys what they need to know, it’s a sure fire way of getting what we need. About half of the team here have over 35 years’ experience, some even over 40 years. So they have a lot of knowledge and experience to pass on.
What do think is important to succeed as an Engineer in the Food Industry?
What I’d say to anyone thinking of a career in Engineering or the food industry, is that you need to be thick skinned and resilient. The thing about engineering and maintenance is that when someone notices your work, it’s usually because you haven’t done done your job. You need to be able to support yourself and take note when you’ve done something well. It’s also important to be self-critical and look at how you did a job once it is done to find areas to improve in.
It’s also an environment where you have to be very self-driven. You need to be proactive and able to teach yourself a lot of stuff, not just wait for information to be handed down to you. You really need to have a natural curiosity for understanding how everything works and be genuinely interested in why something breaks and how you’re going to fix it!
In this field you need to be practical, proactive and thinking on your feet. Not long after I joined I increased efficiency of the plant by 15% by just looking at the mathematics of the plant. I was trying to make sense of how it all worked together, learning about each machine from the manuals and trying to develop a mathematical model of the plant. That’s when I realised that we could be operating significantly more efficiently through making just a few setting changes.
What are you interested in in the future?
I’m really interested in industry 4.0, the fourth iteration of industry. First there was mechanised steam-powered production, then industry 2.0 came along which was about mass production based on electrically powered machines and assembly lines, the next development was industry 3.0 which is about automation. Industry 4.0 is about interconnectivity, using artificial intelligence equipped with machine learning algorithms that can learn and control the robotics. I’d love to be more involved in industry 4.0, looking for ways to optimise engineering and find more innovative ways of doing things.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m a fencing instructor – been at it for many years. I used to practice competitively but that takes up a lot of time, so now I coach once a week. My Grandfather was a fencer in the Royal Navy in the 50s and 60s, back then it was still a requirement. So fencing is a family sport!