Ron Dearing UTC students complete track and trace project with Smith & Nephew

January 8th, 2019

Learners at Ron Dearing UTC have completed a demanding employer-led project set by Smith & Nephew, a global leader in medical device design and manufacture.

The Year 12 students were challenged by Smith & Nephew, one of the school’s Founding Partner employers, to produce a maintenance plan to secure the continued operation of equipment to track and trace medical products.

Medical device manufacture is a highly-regulated industry and requirements are stipulated by organisations such as the NHS in the UK and Food and Drug Administration in the United States. One of these requirements is to implement a Unique Device Identification (UDI) system for each manufactured product. This will ensure there is a universal standard for clearly marking and identifying products throughout their life cycle, from manufacture to distribution and use.

A project team at Smith & Nephew has developed new technology to perform this product marking and is in the process of introducing this into normal manufacturing operations.

It is imperative that the product can be manufactured seamlessly with all aspects of production working without failure and with as little “downtime” as possible. To this end, Smith & Nephew Director of Project Engineering, David Stephenson, asked the Ron Dearing UTC students to produce a maintenance plan to secure the continued operation of the UDI product marking equipment.

Students Ben Dean, Ben Campbell-Wilson, Matthew Hunt, Matthew Hunter and Nathan Hepworth were the leading young engineers on the project.

They developed their strategy with the help of Smith & Nephew's engineering team and working with a prototype of the UDI equipment, donated by the company. Their work considered all aspects of maintenance, from shop floor-based “autonomous maintenance”, which can be carried out by an operator, to pre-planned and data-driven interventions.

The students visited the company’s Hessle Road site in Hull to presenfrom t their project portfolios. They were also given a tour of the factory and heard about the evolution of the UDI machine.

Learning outcomes included an understanding of maintenance strategies, data, planning and continual improvement.

Dan Howard, Assistant Principal, STEM, at Ron Dearing UTC, said the project was conceived as a real-world challenge, rather than simply an exercise.

He said: “Students worked on this project for several months, gaining invaluable experience working with a leading global company and highly-experienced engineers.

“With the help of Smith & Nephew, they have developed an understanding of vital disciplines and working practices, while drilling down into the many aspects of a complex maintenance system, whether that is everyday work on the shop floor or planning at a strategic level.

“This was not simply an exercise – it was a chance for our students to learn and challenge themselves in a real-world situation and offer Smith & Nephew some valuable input.”

Smith & Nephew was founded in Hull in 1856 and is a member of the FTSE 100 index, with operations around the world. Its Hull base specialises in the design, development and manufacture of advanced wound management products, such as PICO and ALLEVYN.

Smith & Nephew views the involvement of students, and the development of their technical competences, as an investment for the future.

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