When my brother was given Lego Technic, I was jealous

Published on by Component Manufacturing. The reading time is approximately 7 minutes.

Iris Panhuis is in a work-study program at NTS. She has already worked for NTS for five years now, combined with a day release scheme at a vocational training for technology in Cuijk and she really likes it. Iris was already interested in technology at a very young age. When she had to choose between technology or care and wellbeing, she chose what she liked most. Her girlfriends encouraged her to do so. Her father, who works as an engineer for NTS, also had a considerable part in it. “I have been making things with my dad since I was a little girl. And I have always liked technology. When my younger brother got a package of Lego Technic for his birthday, I tended to be jealous as I also wanted to play with it.”

“At the moment I am participating in a level 4 day release scheme education in machining,” Iris explains. “At first, I went to preparatory secondary vocational education. When I had to choose a direction, I doubted if I had to choose care and wellbeing or technology. It was either going to be working in technology, or working with small children in a day care centre. I then chose care and well-being because all of my girlfriends chose that direction. Working in a daycare centre really appealed to me but in the last year I started having second thoughts.”

Orientation internship at NTS Hermus was decisive in choosing technology

“During the fourth year of preparatory secondary vocational education, I did an orientation internship at NTS Hermus, a part of NTS, during two weeks. It then turned out that I really liked assembly. Being able to make something out of loose parts that in the end actually works, was really appealing to me. I also annually visited ‘Choose Technology’ in Venray, and I really liked it. Moreover, at the moment that I had to choose a direction day care centres were having a rough time. Then I thought: “I can always take care of children if I get them myself.’”

Chose what I liked

“There only was one other girl in my class in the technology direction. Because of that, I had some doubts for a moment, but eventually, I just did what I liked most. My girlfriends really encouraged me in making that choice. Besides this, my father had a large part in it. He works at NTS Hermus as an engineer and he got me energised for technology at a very young age. I was already making things with him at a very young age.”

Explaining what I do by comparing it to furniture maker

“Machine operator is not a typical profession for women. What I do, does not always fall within the frame of reference of my girlfriends. I then compare it to the work of a furniture maker. A furniture maker makes a chair out of wood for example and I make a part of a machine from a piece of metal. I also like working mainly with men. In general, they are very relaxed and straightforward, you know where you stand.”

Vocational training for technology

“I am currently participating in a day release scheme at a vocational training for technology in Cuijk. Before this I participated in Machinebuilding Mechatronics for three years at ROC Technovium in Nijmegen. During this study all kinds of subjects were discussed such as electronics, pneumatic, hydraulics, sheet metal, welding and machining. Especially machining, making an object out of a piece of material, is something I really like. That is why I speeded up my study All-round Machine Operator and finished it in one-year time. After this I continued with level 4.

Link in a chain

“At the work floor, you work according to a schedule. You have got objects that come from the sawing department and you have got objects that already have gone through another process. Our schedule gives insight into what needs to be finished first. After, I have finished machining the object it needs to be processed even further. I am kind of a link in a chain.”

I keep on learning new things

“I keep on learning new thing. I now, for instance, am working on learning to program in Hypermill. I then make sure that a design is programmed so the machine can execute the operation that is needed. I have not done it often but my colleague Ben helps me step by step and explains to me how Hypermill works. That requires a better knowledge of materials and some products demand a higher precision than others.”

Degree of accuracy required varies

“A product of cytosmart for instance. That is an aluminum strip meant to hold a lamp. That object is a visible component and this cannot be damaged. All steps that an object needs to go through, are in the work schedule. In order to be able to do this type of work, you need to be very precise and you must not be afraid to work with your hands. You won’t get dirty but now and then you might get a small cut.”

CNC machining with a 3-axis: moving head and fixed bed

“I have already worked for NTS for five years. The first 3.5 years I worked as a holiday help at NTS Hermus. After that, I worked as a student Machining at NTS Systems Development for eight months. At this moment I work at NTS Precision in Eindhoven, a fairly new location that recently has extended its machinery considerable. I work at the Hermle C600U, a so-called 3-axis machine. This CNC machine is equipped with a fixed bed to which you clamp your products. The head that is situated above the bed then moves so that you can drill, mill or tap whatever you want.”

The engineer’s design is the starting point

I start by uploading the program on a computer to the machine that operates the CNC machine and then I make a zero position. The exact zero position of the object depends on the customer’s demands. This could be in the middle but also on the right side for example. The program is made in Hypermill and that is distracted from a design of an engineer. Sometimes I also make a swallowtail for a clamping method. That is meant for fixating an object tightly so that it can be processed on another machine.”

Growing towards the 5-axis machines and guiding others in the far future

“In the end, I would like to learn more so that in the end I can work with the 5-axis machines. These machines have a bed that is also able to move or rotate around its axis, whereas the 3-axis machine does not have this possibility. It allows you to adjust the bed, so that you can process the object on all sides. This requires even more knowledge of materials or machinery. Working behind the machine is what I like most. Working behind a computer all day is not something I want to do. If I look at the far future, then I would like to eventually train beginning machine operators. That is something I would really like doing.”

Good guidance, a lot of variation and plenty of room for initiative

“At NTS I am guided really well. Colleagues are very willing to help me and I get a lot of room to come up with my own ideas and think along. When I have finished my education then I would really like to stay here. If I had to describe NTS then the words: customer-oriented, precise, collaboration and being helpful, come to mind. They really want to teach you something here. You get the freedom to plan your own day based on the schedule, there are no shift works and you work on small series which means you have a lot of variety.”

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