Did you already know that as an Engineering student you can do a traineeship in our Technical Design Centers? Olivier (Electromechanics at HoGent) and Géo (Design and production technology at Odisee Gent) are doing a traineeship in our drawing office in Ghent and in the meantime are working on their bachelor’s thesis. They are doing this in cooperation with our client CNH.

A tough combination, but thanks to their passion and personal guidance from their mentor Johan, that's going to be just fine!

When looking for a traineeship, ausy was quickly chosen.

Let’s start at the beginning: How did you come into contact with Ausy?

Olivier: “I went looking for vacancies in the direction I wanted to go and found a job as a Mechanical Design Engineer at Ausy. That job appealed to me because it involved a great deal of drawing work.”

“I was looking into the possibility of doing my bachelor’s thesis through Ausy. After a discussion with Johan, I was allowed to start.”

"I got a list of possible traineeships through the school,” says Géo. "My professor tipped me off about Ausy and I’m glad I made that choice! I actually had two other options, but the challenge here was greater due to the combination of a bachelor’s thesis with design, and that in cooperation with a customer.”

Personal guidance, but with sufficient responsibility.

How does Johan assist you during the traineeship?

Géo: "Johan went with me to CNH to explain the case. Olivier and I had the opportunity to follow a Creo Parametric course (the drawing package used at CNH); we exchange ideas with Johan and so on.”

“But I am entirely responsible for the actual implementation: I built my own test set-up at the company and occasionally go there to perform tests.”

Olivier adds: "When I need help, I also receive it from Johan. For example, if a pattern to be drawn is not clear or the numbering is incorrect. We work here in an open-plan office, so Johan can quickly be reached in case of an emergency. And even if he’s not there, we can always reach him by phone.”

two students working in the drawing room
two students working in the drawing room

Nice compliments for you, Johan! Do you have a specific approach?

Johan: “I try to make them work independently where possible. Furthermore, I try to get involved as little as possible. For example, they contact suppliers or the company themselves. I am just informed about the progress. By the way, I'll be adjudicating the bachelor’s thesis of both Olivier and Géo in June.”

3D model for cutting and folding die.

Speaking of that bachelor’s thesis: what is its subject?

Olivier: I am working on a cutting and folding die that is 40 years old and of which only 2D drawings exist. It is used for combine harvesters, to filter different grains. To make changes and add improvements, CNH needs a 3D model.”

I got the drawings and pieces sent to me, and I’m now converting them entirely into 3D,” says Olivier. “Afterwards, I have to make adjustments to the existing machine (such as integrating sensors for the sake of safety) in order to reduce the number of malfunctions.”

A real challenge: starting from scratch in order to design a solution.

What about Geo’s bachelor’s thesis? “For the time being, my project is less specific than Olivier’s. While he starts with drawings and hard data, I work on the basis of a problem definition for which I have to design a solution.”

Géo continues: “The problem presented is that during the powder coating process, a component, for example a metal guide plate, has to be coated by the production machine. But because this part is coated, the coating process deteriorates. My job is to design a machine that removes or prevents the overspraying of paint on this part.”

Sounds really fascinating! Could you give me more technical details about the trial?

Géo: “I've just finished the pre-study and a few minor tests. From there I designed my test set-up. This shows that the best option is to remove the powder coating mechanically (sanding with steel brushes). Now I'm working on a 3D design in consultation with the people from CNH and Johan.”

"Up until now, two employees have been working a whole day a week to remove this coating. Just think what an enormous saving this would produce for the company if it is no longer needed because of my solution.”

Being in contact with suppliers as a trainee.

Olivier: "During the first part of the trial I first looked at how the die is constructed. After that I completely rebuilt it piece by piece. The base plate slides in and each 70mm step involves a certain amount of machining.”

There are four steps in total, says Olivier:

  1. The piece is cut to length
  2. A groove is created
  3. The piece is folded and the pattern is inserted
  4. The only piece of waste produced is carried off by means of a final conveyor belt

"During the second part of the trial, I examine whether there is a solution for the hole through which a safety pin passes. Sometimes the hole is too far or not far enough. That could skew the pin. If that happens, the machine must be shut down.”

“CNH expects me to produce one or more solutions to integrate sensors into the machine, so that the pin cannot block as often and maybe even becomes superfluous. I am currently in contact with suppliers to investigate these options.”

What have you learned so far?

Olivier: That a lot depends on this project. I realise that if I make a mistake that would be used on all models, a lot of things would go wrong in the entire process. It is also a great honour for students to be able to work with these real models there.”

Géo: “I especially learned that, from a student’s point of view, CNH spends a lot of money on research and testing. That’s quite a responsibility, isn’t it?”  

And so - we cross our fingers - that’s how it all works out well by the end of their trial. Olivier & Géo satisfied, CNH contented and Ausy happy. Everybody happy... Oh what a wonderful world!