Supply Management Trainee (SMT)
CUB’s Abbotsford brewery runs 24 hours a day, six days a week (seven during peak times), with three 8-hour shifts across the day. I am currently working the day shift, from 6AM to 2PM.
So it’s early morning starts this week – luckily, I live close by and there is almost no traffic on the roads. I arrive at the brewery by 5.45AM and head into the packaging hall.
As I walk through the packaging hall, I like to check on how the line is running from the shift before. This morning we’re running Carlton Dry cans, 24-packs. I head to the packaging office and do a handover with the last shift’s team leader, who lets me know about any issues on the line and how the current run is going.
I quickly scan my emails and notifications before gathering my team to run through what the day is looking like. I’m a team leader on the can line, leading a team of nine machine operators, three mechanical fitters and one electrician. I let my team know about any safety callouts, quality issues, and what we’re packaging on this shift. Today we’ll be sticking to Carlton Dry but changing to 10-packs in the afternoon, so there’ll be some prep work to get ready for that.
Next is a quick catch-up with the maintenance controller and unit manager to review any planned maintenance during the week. This is a good time to get an overview of whether we can expect any disruptions that we may need to work around. I usually try and sneak in a bit of breakfast around now, because once the line is really going, you never know when or where it’ll be all hands on deck.
Most of my meetings and planning takes place in the first couple of hours of the shift, and from then each day can be completely different. Some days everything runs perfectly, and the team and I are able to catch up on work or prepare for the next runs, but other days it feels like everything can go wrong.
I like to spend a lot of my time on the line itself, relaying messages to my team, checking on each of the machines’ performance, and getting a real feel for how everything is going.
Everything is running fairly well today, so I work with the team to start preparing one of the machines so we can change it from the 24-pack to a 10-pack configuration. We won’t be changing over for a little while, but it’s good to get ahead where you can. I also spend some time in the office ordering new stock and raw materials, confirming quality checks and working through a bit of admin.
I head down to the palletiser (this is the machine that stacks the slabs into a pallet) to check out a previously reported issue. One of the conveyor belts was moving erratically, causing the slabs to get blocked and run into each other. This slows down the efficiency of the run, but it can also potentially damage the beer slabs.
One of our fitters has to be brought over to get an idea of the issue – it appears the bearing and sprocket are worn down and need to be replaced. I work with our maintenance team to source these parts and they are quickly installed, keeping disruption to the line at a minimum.
We are getting close to the end of the Carlton Dry run, so I work my way down the line to make sure each machine is ready to be changed over to Mercury Hard Cider. Once we reach 26,000 cans of Carlton Dry, we begin the change.
The line becomes a flurry of activity. The filler is flushed and cleaned of any excess beer, Mercury cans are loaded in, slabs are replaced, and we are ready to go again. Before anything is packed, we do a test run so the cider can be assessed by our tasters. We only send the best out!
The day has flown by! I begin to collect my results from the day’s run and I prepare a short report on today’s activities. The next shift will be in at 2PM, and having that report ready helps minimise downtime between shifts.
The next team leader arrives and I run him through how the run went, as well as the issues with the palletiser. He’ll be keeping an eye on it during the afternoon shift.
I’m still relatively new in my position but leading a team has been a great learning experience. Both the on-the-job learning and the more formal mentoring and support I am receiving has really developed my skills.
All done for the day. I really enjoy being on the day shift, as it leaves heaps of time in the afternoon for myself and allows me to hit up a yoga session and catch up with some friends.