Manufacturing profile: Lucy Smith

Lucy Smith in front of the blast furnaces
Technical Degree Apprentice Lucy Smith at the blast furnaces

Lucy Smith is Day Operations Manager (Raw Materials) at our Blast Furnaces. She started working with us as an apprentice in 2015, you can read about Lucy's experiences along the way here...

What is your role?

My role is Day Operations Manager (Raw Materials) at the Blast Furnaces. It fits within the larger Raw Materials team, which consists of both manufacturing and engineering team members.

The main objective and responsibility of this role is to ensure that raw materials are continuously supplied to the furnaces. In this role I have to have a full understanding of material types, their movement (including managing stockyards, maintenance schedules and material route outages).

I oversee the raw materials movement on the Blast Furnace highline, which is a storage facility for raw materials. This consists of 110 bunkers, each storing different materials that are transported and replenished by coke cars and ore cars (locomotives).

In this role I’m in regular contact with the shift manager, highline controllers and other plant areas such as the sinter plant and coke ovens to make sure we have a continuous supply of materials.

Why did you choose to work for British Steel?

I chose to work at British Steel because they offer amazing apprenticeship and training opportunities. I started my career as a technical apprentice in 2015 – the training and knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career here has been exceptional.

British Steel is world famous for its high-quality products and commitment to the continuous development of the global steel market. I wanted to be a part of that, especially because I’ve grown up in Scunthorpe and the steelworks has always been the beating heart of the town.

How would you describe the culture of British Steel and how you fit into it?

British Steel is a very traditional company and the skill and knowledge of employees have been passed down in many cases from generation to generation.

The fundamental process of manufacturing steel has remained the same for many years and the company as a whole radiates pride, passion and performance. As a younger employee in the industry, I feel I’m contributing to keeping this tradition alive.

How do you think your role at British Steel will help with your future career goals?

My role as an Operations Manager (Raw Materials) has helped me gain a rich knowledge in the importance of material quality and consistency of supply. Raw materials are so important – without them we would not be able to produce the molten iron at the furnaces and downstream we would not be able to produce steel.

I’d like to gain further knowledge of different areas of the blast furnaces by moving around different operational managerial roles – gas plant operations manager and cast house operations manager. With this experience, I believe this will help me in reaching my goal of becoming a blast furnace shift manager in the future.

I’m a professional technician member of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3). With the experience I’ve gained on plant, I’m now a registered Engineering Technician (EngTech) with the engineering council and my end goal is to become a Chartered Engineer. This would not be possible without the career path I’ve taken within British Steel.

What do you think is the best thing about working for British Steel?

The best bit about working for British Steel is that no 2 days are the same. I’m constantly learning new things and experiencing different operational scenarios on a day-to-day basis.

For example, one day I could be helping out on a blast furnace ‘down (maintenance) day’, removing and replacing a tuyere (a crucial part of an operating blast furnace) on the furnace and the next day I could be at the top of one of the 2,000t bunkers (where sinter is stored) assisting in maintenance.

What is the most challenging thing about working for British Steel?

At British Steel, the process can change in an instant out on plant. This means you have to think on your feet very quickly to resolve any issues as soon as possible without impacting production or the quality of the products being made. I really enjoy the challenge and the fast-paced nature of the job.

Can you describe British Steel in 3 words?

Fresh, bright and determined.

I’ve chosen these words because even though the steelworks have been here in Scunthorpe since the 1800s, British Steel is a new company that has already demonstrated the positive impact it can make in the steel industry.

Have you got any advice for people currently applying to work for British Steel?

The sky is the limit when it comes to learning at British Steel. Take every opportunity you can to learn more about the processes that occur at this fascinating site.

The more you delve into the process, the more hooked you will be! Applying for the apprenticeship at British Steel was the best decision I’ve ever made. From this I have now gained my dream job at the blast furnaces!