My apprenticeship journey with Future Biogas started in autumn 2014. I was 18 and had just left college to work as a labourer for my stepfather on an anaerobic digestion site that was under construction in Suffolk. I had decided that university wasn’t for me and had begun actively searching for apprenticeships. During my search, an opportunity as a maintenance technician in Lincolnshire, for Future Biogas, appeared on the website. The job looked interesting, and I couldn’t escape the feeling that it was meant to be, considering that I was already working on an AD site – a very odd coincidence considering that I had never heard of AD weeks before and all of a sudden, it was everywhere! I was invited for an interview with the operations manager at Merlin Renewables and, as they say, the rest is history!

Merlin Renewables: The site where Alex completed his apprenticeship

I spent my first nine months at a local training centre, learning basic electrical and mechanical skills and theory, in a controlled environment and started working on-site at Merlin Renewables in August 2015. My first day was straight into tool work with my supervisor, changing cutting blades on a feed hopper. I rotated through the AD sites, gaining operational experience before joining the maintenance team full time in 2016. Whilst working on-site, I completed a Level 3 BTEC Electrical qualification, an HNC and an HND and I am currently in the process of completing a Level 4 NVQ. After a further years’ experience under my belt, spent shadowing my supervisor and other skilled technicians, I completed my apprenticeship contract in 2017.  I found myself responsible for a  Future Biogas van, laden with tools, and I jumped in at the deep end. I was on-call for the first time in January 2018 as a fully-fledged maintenance technician.

My role as a maintenance technician involves providing both planned and corrective maintenance, together with occasional site improvement and project work, across six AD sites situated in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Planned work can include gearbox oil changes, inspections of assets and compressor services. Corrective work may involve replacing motors & gearboxes, fault finding electrical issues and diagnosing process problems. I provide 24/7 call out support to all six sites, every one in four weeks, where I respond to breakdowns at a moments notice. This may sound tough, but there is a great sense of satisfaction when a problem is solved, especially when I don’t have to wake up my supervisor in the middle of the night!

I am now 24 and have been with Future Biogas for six years –  how time flies! During my time with Future Biogas, I have seen the number of sites under operational management triple. I have been involved with construction, commissioning and operation for many of these and I also work onsite expansion projects. It has been a great pleasure to be part of a growing organisation and to feel like a valuable component along the way. The experience, skills and qualifications I have achieved with Future Biogas, through my apprenticeship, are invaluable and it has been a fantastic company to develop my skills in both engineering and the AD industry.