The MJ Quinn Apprentice Blog Weeks 5-8


Onward & Upward – The MJ Quinn Apprentice Blog Weeks 5-8

Written by Barnie Simpson, Cameron Murphy, Kevin Miller, Jack Delaney and Jack Ouwejan

Week Five

This week we learnt how to run a sash line, which happens when a new dropwire is being installed and is usually required when a dropwire has to be installed over a carriageway. The sash line technique is complete when both sides of the wire have been clamped successfully, and height has been maintained at 5.9m (minimum of 5.5m). To achieve this, we had to climb two poles and secure pulleys to both with then allowed us to pull the wire through from pole to pole.

We were also taught how to run a “Cut and Draw” with the dropwire. This happens when an existing dropwire has to be replaced with a new dropwire, so the existing dropwire is used to pull the new wire through, almost like the sash line technique. A clamp is attached to the new dropwire and a separate clamp to the existing one, then both clamps are fastened together. The existing wire is attached to two pulleys, to allow it to be pulled through. Once both pulleys are secured, the wire is then pulled through, to remove the old wire and feed the replacement into place. Once enough wire has been pulled through, it is secured into place with a dropwire clamp either side of the wire span, and the pulleys are removed. It is imperative that any waste wire is disposed of and that any equipment is stored correctly once the job is complete.

Also this week we used the training cabinets to run jumpers. This is where a length of jumper wire is run from an E-side slot to a D-side slot, (E=Exchange, our side. D=Distribution, customer side). It is important that we are taught how to run jumpers correctly because different cabs have different fixings that require alternate tools, components, etc. Each different type of module requires specific tools to terminate wires in them. Engineers must be taught how to use each module and its corresponding tools as they will be required to operate on all modules in the field. It is equally important that all engineers carry the tools with them to every cab, as any module could be inside.

Finally, we were shown how to use the Dex Green Smart Switch Adapter test kit on the cabs. This is used to confirm that you have the correct line. Once we had learned how to apply each different adapter, we were then practicing using different modules and their corresponding tools. Once we had got the hang of the tools and procedures surrounding them, we ran jumpers on all of the different modules as practice and had them checked to ensure we were doing it right. After that, we were given an E-side number and a D-side number and allowed to figure out how to connect the two ports, what tools to use and what way to run it. When running jumper wires, it is important to remember to slot the wires into all of the guides, straps and hooks to reduce congestion as much as possible. It also makes it easier for any engineers who have to work on the cabinet after you.

We all found this week very interesting as we were beginning to see more complex parts of the job and tasks that we may be asked to complete once we start to work in the field.

Week Six

This week we started our SI course. The first thing we were taught was what tools are used for what module, how to operate safely on the cabinets, and what types of cabs we may see in the field, such as cast-iron cabs. We also had a presentation on the environmental obligations of M.J Quinn and all engineers working for the company.

Later in the week we shadowed a Field Coach on live training, working on different cabs in the field. As we shadowed him, we worked on a multitude of cab modules, such as Quante, Krone, Bix, 3M, tool-less, SCC 100 and 200 and Midland shelves. He showed us how to apply our training and use the tools that we were shown in the training centre. Sid tool for the Quante, Inserter 2A for the Krone, Inserter 9A for Bix, Inserter 10A for the 3M, Crimping pliers and crimps for SCC100/200 and the midland shelf, and no tools for the tool-less.  As we arrived at the first job our coach explained that we must set up the gate guards as it means that the cab is classified as a workspace. It also has a courtesy board with the company number on it, allowing any members of the public to contact the company with any queries.. We were taught a mnemonic to remember the order of wires from 1-5, resetting at 5. Be On Guard Before Six; Blue, Orange, Green, Brown, Slate (grey). After every 5 wires the primary wire colour changes, for example; White-Blue, White-Orange, White-Green, White-Brown, White-Slate, then Red-Blue, Red-Orange and so on. The primary wire colours are White, Red, Blue, Yellow, Violet.

We all enjoyed our live working and shadowing the most, it was great to be out in the field and seeing real working cabinets and putting into practice all we have learnt at the Training Academy.

Week Seven

This week began with us being taught us how to read the Job Information provided by BT for the SI jobs, which is necessary for working in the field. From the information, you can find what cab your working on, what exchange it is connected to, where it is in the exchange, where the copper E and D ports are, where the Fibre D and E ports are and what pole it is connected to. As we arrived at the first job, we had to call the Fast Test service for a line test, allowing us to see any known problems on the line, this also means you have officially started the job.  As you approach the cab, it is important to look for damage to the cab, doors, hinges and other visible faults. As you open the cab, check for earth bonding. Earth bonding must be present if the cab is within a 5-meter radius of another cab (3-meter radius if the doors are open). If there is no earth bonding when there should be, call AOC as SI engineer are not trained to operate with high voltage cables.                 

Each of us were assigned individual jobs, shown the job information. One job we were assigned was a midland shelf cab, with the Fibre side made up of SCC 100’s. The Fibre was reversed and out by 10, making it harder to complete the job, and a previous engineer had left a problem, so we also fixed that whilst in the cab. All engineers should fix any defects in their bunch, trim shiners back and ensure that bobble ties are secured correctly, this prevents further problems.

Whilst completing our own jobs was nerve wracking at first, we all enjoyed putting out new skills to the test and always knew we had support on hand if we started to struggle. We all felt that we had come a long way from week 1!!

Week Eight

This week, we went out live training again, working on cabs predominantly consisting of Krone, Quante, Tool-less and Midland shelf modules.  A problem we ran into was that an engineer was working in the exchange as we were in the cab, causing problems on the wires. Another issue was that the ports we were assigned were not receiving a tone, meaning it was harder to follow the wire. For one of the jobs, the fibre was reversed from port 1000+, causing problems for us as the fibre port wasn’t connecting properly, so we were shown how to perform a ‘lift and shift’, which involves the quoted port being changed in order to complete the job. To do this, the engineer must call Openreach and provide details relevant to their request.  From there, they will re-assign ports to different numbers meaning that we can utilise a spare line to complete our job.

Just like week 7 we all enjoyed being out in the field and getting an understanding of the problems engineers can face on a day to day basis. It was really interesting to learn about the methods of over coming these problems and learning from experienced engineers, many of whom started as apprentices just like us.

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