Case Study

George Paddon OTAQ Production Manager

Below George tell us about his role at OTAQ as Production Manager in a rapidly growing company specialising in aquaculture technology. Joining the electronics industry straight from school at 16, he has rapidly progressed from an apprentice to having management responsibility for production activities in the business, where he also puts his technical and practical expertise to use on a day-to-day basis:

“At OTAQ, the Production Manager is responsible for all aspects of a product’s lifecycle – from components & assembly, to delivery, and then its return for repair and/or upgrade.

A day starts with the sales orders or installation schedule. A job (the paperwork records) must be created for each of these schedules. It is then my responsibility to make sure the Production staff are clear on the jobs to do and their priority, and to ensure time is allocated to each job.

The team can only complete these jobs if the components are available in stock so, it’s my responsibility to ensure that stock levels are sufficient to meet the orders. When stocks are low, I oversee the component purchasing and manufacture, then ensure everything is received and booked into stores. All this must be done to ensure product is delivered to customers on time; the key responsibility of a Production Manager is meeting customer deadlines!

OTAQ’s products are usually rented, which means the product is regularly returned to be inspected, tested, repaired, and upgraded with the latest improvements so part of my role is to oversee the existing products as well as the newly built ones. As well as the organising and overseeing of product delivery, you will often find me using my electronics knowledge whilst upgrading PCBs; soldering surface mount components. I’m also involved in maintenance – repairing and refurbishing mechanical housings, electronic circuit boards and acoustic projectors to ensure they are completely reliable. But it’s not only the products, there’s the workshop and stores to maintain too!

After finishing school, I knew I didn’t want to follow an academic route, but I had a keen interest in electronics and engineering. I had no prior experience and didn’t know what was available in the Lancaster area, and so I contacted Blackpool and Fylde college about their Electrical and Electronic Engineering course. It was one of the college tutors who suggested an apprenticeship a bit closer to home, which would allow me to work 4 days a week and attend college for the other day. I was put in contact with a local electronics company (now called OTAQ), had a casual interview, and successfully got a job as an apprentice.

At college, I learnt the principles of electrical and electronic engineering. But the electronics training was only about 2 hours a week. It was working on the job alongside other engineers that I learnt about electronic systems, electronic drawings and documentation, and circuit board assembly. The key parts of this learning were about identifying, purchasing, and fitting electronic components, through reading schematics, bills of material, and silkscreens.

As the company grew, and started building a portfolio of rental products, I grew and adapted with it, progressing to Production Supervisor. With on-the-job training, I built and managed a stock system, implemented product assembly and maintenance documentation, and put in controls to ensure all products received their necessary upgrades.

The company has continued with large growth in a short time, such that we now maintain large volumes of rental products and high stock levels. And so, I have now progressed to my current role, Production Manager, to manage this stock and all our rental products.

If anyone wanted to pursue a career in Electronics, I would recommend the same thing I did – contact local technology companies, and start an apprenticeship programme, to get the best of both on-the-job and academic learning.”