Alan Kelly is managing director for General Electric's engine maintenance facility in Nantgarw, near Cardiff, in Wales. The facility, along with GE's other UK engine facility at Prestwick in Scotland, provides engine overhaul and repair services for a panoply of international clients including British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair.

How did you get started in engineering?

I began with an engineering apprenticeship for Rolls-Royce in 1986, before I went on to do a bachelor's degree in manufacturing engineering and management studies at Paisley University. At university, I was given a sponsorship by GE Caledonian, and joined the business straight from university in 1994 as a production engineer for services.

And you've been with the company ever since?

Yes. Before my appointment in Wales, I was working in Malaysia as general manager for the services operation. In Malaysia, I was responsible for overseeing an overhaul of the engineering service in a joint venture with Malaysia Airlines. In October 2005, I was offered the opportunity to replace my predecessor in Wales, and I accepted, as it was a perfect opportunity, both from a professional and family perspective.

What work goes through the shop at Nantgarw?

We have a very skilled workforce in the shop maintaining the GE90 family of engines, the CFM series, and the RB211-524 and RB211-535C.

We are in the process of introducing capability for the GP7200, which will power the Airbus A380. In anticipation of this, we are training employees and preparing our shop processes. We don't expect to see volume of the GP7200 for some time, but this will become an important part of our business in the future.

How many people work at Nantgarw and where are they drawn from?

We have about 120 people working in technical and leadership positions, with an operations team of around 750 highly skilled mechanics. We are a very local employer, and are very proud of our apprentice scheme. We also cast our net wider, and work with a long list of universities and technical colleges to recruit the best talent into the organisation.

What does the next 12 months have in store?

I want to see our people developing ownership with our customers by getting a better understanding of the challenges they face, and differentiating ourselves from other engine overhaul providers.

We are very heavily engaged in a programme of Lean Six Sigma methodology, which has enabled us to adequately prepare for increases in customers and volume by looking at elements such as our layout. It has already paid dividends, by improving our performance in shop flow and reducing our turnaround times, and I want to see that go further. It is important that we bring customers to the site and show them the good work that's going on here.

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Source: Flight International