60 second interview: Richard Curtis, ERIKS Sealing Technology
Paul Fanning speaks to Richard Curtis, technical manager, ERIKS Sealing Technology
How did you get into engineering?
I was offered an engineer apprenticeship at the age of 17. Qualified as a fully skilled machinist four years later, soon after which I successfully applied for an application engineer's role at Shamban Europa. That's where I entered the wonderful world of seals.
What does your job involve on a day-to-day basis?
The technical manager's role at Eriks Sealing Technology involves supervising a small team of Application/Design Engineers who are responsible for a variety of processes and tasks. In layman's terms we listen to our customer's requirements, base the product design on the needs of the client and produce the necessary documentation to acquire costs to provide the customer with a quotation and proposal.
What interesting projects and technologies you have worked on?
Over the past 24 years I've worked for 3 seal companies and experienced a vast array of applications. Some of the most exciting ones include hydraulic actuators and dampers on Formula 1 cars, compact seal designs on large civil aircraft landing gear and high performance seals used on Directional Drilling equipment used Oil and Gas recovery.
Are there any new technologies that have you excited / Any new technologies you see as being quite revolutionary to the wider world?
Computer Aided Design has advanced significantly over the time I've been in Engineering. We are using software to automate drawing our standard product range. The time saving here is significant and allows my team to concentrate on more complex and higher value applications.
What is the biggest issue/driver facing your industry?
Going green does pose difficulties to us, but we are working hard to make our product more sustainable. My biggest challenge will be to find suitable candidates for seal design engineers as we grow. Sealing is a science on its own and requires a particular mind set to be successful. Combine this with experience and the right people become difficult to find.
What advice can you give to younger engineers just entering the industry?
I have been in this industry most of my working life, during which I've seen a broad range of engineered solutions, that would not have been possible if seals were not incorporated in their design. By being an import part of the customer's solution I found satisfaction. If you get good at it, your services will be in demand.
How do you see the industry changing going forward?
The advancement of elastomeric and thermoplastic materials will enable the industry to seal colder and hotter temperatures, higher pressures, more aggressive media and higher surface speeds. Combine these materials with the design tools at our disposal, we can provide our customers with solutions for their more demanding applications.
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