An apprentice abroad

Day 1 – 18 April

I was joined at Manchester Airport by Martin McLoughlin and Craig Hyde from Schneider Electric, and John Espie, SELECT’s 2016 Apprentice of the Year. We flew from Manchester to Geneva, where we drove through the spectacular Alps to Grenoble, which was equally stunning.

Upon arrival in Grenoble, we explored the city and were treated to views over the Vercors, Chartreuse and Belledonne mountain ranges from cable car pods.  We later walked along the river Isère and went for dinner in the vibrant city centre. The atmosphere, culture and architecture in Grenoble were fantastic.

 Day 2 – 19 April

Grenoble is also Schneider Electric’s electrical engineering hub; it includes eight Schneider electric plants, two of which we visited on the trip. Our first stop was Electropole, which is Schneider Electric’s research and development centre. We were introduced to commercial manager, Mr Histro Histrov, who gave us a tour of the test labs. We looked at rooms that were purpose built for testing products and other devices in real life environments such as hospital wards, office spaces with false floor panels, and extreme temperature industrial areas.

I was impressed by the lengths that the researchers went to to ensure that no stone was left unturned.  We were also shown a range of high tech, future ready products, such as the Masterpact MTZ, an air circuit breaker that works wirelessly and includes features such as Bluetooth and NFC connection for smart connectivity.

We were then introduced to Quentin Leddet who showed us the PowerTag which is the smallest wireless energy sensor on the market, a project he’s been heavily involved with designing and launching.

After a 3 course meal, we headed to the manufacturing plant, Master-Tech. We were introduced to the factory and work by Delille Chamroen, an industrialisation and automisation engineer. He told us that the factory uses 2600 tons of copper, 760 tons of polyester resin, 390 tons of steel and 53 tons of steel yearly! My time at the factory gave me an insight into the manufacturing side of the supply chain that I had not previously had.

Day 3 – 20 April

Following another great meal and a chance to watch the football in a sports bar, we returned to Geneva airport and headed home.

During the trip I gained some great insight into Schneider Electric, which has deepened my knowledge and furthered my interest in some exciting revolutionary systems that will soon be impacting the electrical industry. I was also excited to see the strategies and systems in place to secure the future of the industry. The knowledge I have gained from this study trip will be invaluable and will prove very useful back at work at Chris Bowker Ltd.

I am exceedingly grateful to Craig Hyde and Malcolm McLoughlin for organising such a fantastic trip. I felt extremely privileged to be given the opportunity of a lifetime to go on such an unforgettable experience. Many thanks to Edmundson Electrical, the ECA, and Schneider Electric for making this trip possible.