[Trade portrait] David, machining worker: a multi-faceted trade

David de Gaetano

15 February 2022 Human ressources Story

At the heart of today’s industrial process, machining workers shape metal parts by removing material with numerical control machining tools.
This multi-faceted trade requires a high degree of knowledge in mechanics and programming. There are numerous possibilities for developing skills and career prospects due various specialities within the trade, explains David, machining worker and specialist in Seimens programming on the site of Toulon.

David, aged 32, is a machining worker at the CA 15 workshop on the Toulon naval base. Pulleys, hull passages, torpedo launching tubes... The operators at CA 15 work on all types of parts for both surface ships and submarines, either being built or undergoing in-service support (ISS). The workshop is equipped with the high precision machines (digital tower, boring machining centre, etc.) required to manufacture very diverse parts, not only in terms of their complexity, but also their dimensions. Operators train for several years on using this equipment before becoming fully proficient. Machining workers, milling and lathe operators all work at CA 15. They are all part of the machining trades family, but each have own specific know-how.

Machining workers, milling and lathe operators are all to be found at the CA 15 facility; jobs that are all part of the machining trades family, but each with their own specific know-how.

A trade and its know-how

In 2009, David was following a vocational diploma in Production Engineering for mechanical products at the Rouvière secondary school in Toulon when he carried out his internship at the CA 15 workshop. This first successful work experience was followed by a year-long temping contract before he began a permanent contract in 2010. After an initial phase of training on the small numerical tower for manufacturing small-dimension parts, David continued his learning on the machining centre and gained the skills necessary for producing larger, prismatic parts for ISS projects. He then went onto operating the vertical tower before moving to the new machining centre acquired by the workshop in 2013, a tool he was in charge of for seven years. David has spent a total of ten years exploring the numerous possibilities offered by the trade, developing his skills and perfecting his techniques on several machines.

Sharing knowledge: an important principle

"Machining is a set of different specialities: methodology and different types of programming, each according to the machine and the complexity of work on the part. The thing I love about the job is the permanent challenge! To succeed in tightening and clamping a part, then carrying out work correctly is really satisfying, especially when certain parts have large dimensions and geometrically complex shapes. Some can be over six metres long over three metres in diameter! It's an extremely varied trade, and one that requires a great deal of thought, concentration, and of course, accuracy", explains David.

Since 2020, he has been learning to work on a boring machine, not just the workshop's biggest tool, but the only one of this capacity located in the Mediterranean basin. It is used to produce large parts such as torpedo launching tubes, soft patches for nuclear attack submarines (SSN) or catapult brake cylinders for the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. He is mentored by Frédéric, who is sharing his know-how with David before his upcoming retirement. "I have learned my skills by working with more experienced colleagues. Sharing our know-how through on-the-job training and helping each other work are important principles in our trade. It is reassuring but also essential, as we are working on high-value parts: mistakes can be costly!".  

Alongside his training on the boring machine, David also shares his own expertise on the machining centre when needed. “I find my trade really fulfilling. I'm lucky to have been given the chance to learn about various facets!”