Mañana, Mañana

Stereotyping can be dangerous, begins Marcos Sanz, as the senior design engineer at Modulift goes on to address culture, family, communication, safety, and more.

I don't subscribe to stereotypes, which is an approach that serves me well at work and at home. Perhaps being an engineer helps. We work in terms of science and fact, not assumption and preconception. I'm Spanish but does that mean I won't do something hoy (today) that can wait until mañana (tomorrow)? Of course not. How long do you think I'd have lasted at Modulift with that attitude?

Cinco minutos.

As it is, I've been here seven years and continue to feel part of the family. I must be doing something right. Moreover, we all are. The company employs a diverse, some could say, multicultural group of people, but I wouldn't describe it as that. Everyone comes to work each morning striving to achieve the same goals, regardless of one's background, age, gender, race, etc. I'm not going to go into cultural assimilation (this isn't a sociology blog!) but the point is we conform to the culture of a business. And it yields results.

Family is important, in all aspects of life. I spent four months working as a volunteer at an orphanage in Guatemala, a remote area south of Mexico, many years ago. Of course, family means something different to everyone; it's not always about mum, dad, children, and puppy. The Modulift engineering team—Sue, Yogesh, Jordan, Vidhya, Hope and I—feels like a family in itself, for example.

I enjoyed reading my colleague Paul Smith's recent blog, in which our operations director spoke about the ambition of Sarah Spivey, managing director; and Sue Spencer, technical director. I definitely agree that they've created "an energetic, exuberant culture". And that's how I look at them, as dynamic business leaders at the head of the Modulift community, not necessarily as women bucking the trend in a male-dominated sector. I think that's how they want to be viewed too.

Communication is key to cohesion and success. I know a thing or two about that as well, having worked as a Spaniard for a Scottish company before joining Modulift! It's a life-changing challenge to overcome and one that I can take great strength from. I had the global language of engineering to fall back on, but that can be a minefield in itself.

Even now, I speak to some people who seem to be talking an entirely different language, as they may have a different opinion on the theory behind the work. The key thing is to realize who is talking the correct engineering language.

Horses for courses

Despite the positive experiences it's delivered to me, I wouldn't encourage every young person to travel and work overseas. Again, I guard against stereotyping someone who might be of a certain age and at a particular point in his or her career, but to whom a move overseas might not suit them personally or professionally. There are pros and cons to acknowledge before packing your suitcase with worldly possessions.

Similarly, I wouldn't push anyone into a career in engineering, even though it's been good to me. What I would suggest is that more young people should consider a science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) pathway and not buy into certain stereotypes (there's that word again) about it.

It's true that spreader beams appear on the surface as relatively simple products; we design them to appear that way and prescribe standard solutions wherever possible. However, there remains an incredible amount of engineering scope in the below-the-hook sector.

I thrive on variety and this job delivers it, often in the shape of a complex lift where certain restrictions might be imposed, or where there are multiple solutions and it's about selecting the one that ticks the most boxes, with safety always being the principle consideration. I'll even confess to a bit of "mañana, mañana" in that many a solution has only presented itself after a night's sleep. No two lifts are exactly the same so whether it's a custom frame that's never been created before or a new, revolutionary product to add to the range, there are always fresh challenges around the corner.

It's worth reiterating the importance of safety, which is key to the Modulift culture referenced throughout this article. Think about what happens when an item of rigging equipment fails and a load falls. The result can be an empty chair at a family dinner table. It's true that safe lifting solutions are only devised by competent professionals. A big part of our work centres on eliminating the probability of error, which is achieved by paying close attention to detail.

We always look beyond where in the world a lift is taking place. So what, the project is in Argentina, China, Kuala Lumpur, or Antarctica? The most important consideration is the lifting conditions. How high is it? What is the sea state? How warm is it? What else might impact the stability of the rig and the load? Etc. Etc. It's similar to what we were saying about people; it doesn't matter where they are from, but more what's in their nature. A lift in Dubai might be exposed to sub-zero temperatures if it's taking place in a frozen food storage facility.

That said, staying on top of worldwide standards, cultures, norms, and accreditations is crucial. As a global company we have procedures in place for monitoring such documentation, so that we don't miss anything. For each job, we look at the geography and analyse the applicable standards. For instance, we need to be aware of ASME for the U.S. market and the EurAsian Conformity (EAC) mark for Russia.

As cranes get bigger and they lift heavier loads, below-the-hook engineers like us will have to keep up. We're getting calls for 1,000t capacity beams and the trend is only heading one way. All things considered, it's a fun time to be part of the industry.

¡Gracias por leer!

Marcos Sanz

Senior Design Engineer


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