17th Jan 2024
Life in Billy-Berclau Douvrin

My Gigafactory, my job: Benjamin is a plant operator

Benjamin Ryckelynck is a plant operator at Module Assembly.

Plant operators are among the key players in the operation of the Gigafactory ACC in Billy-Berclau - Douvrin. They are at the heart of production, in the workshops.

Benjamin Ryckelynck, 37, is one of them. He joined the Gigafactory in April 2023, after sixteen years' experience in industry. His background? "A baccalaureate in production engineering, followed by a BTS and a degree in computer-aided design", says Benjamin, who at his first company modelled and machined moulds for parts. He then moved into machine tool programming. 

At the beginning of 2023, Benjamin started to question himself: "I want to learn new things, I'm approaching forty... You think about the future, there are opportunities." The concern for the ecological transition also fuelled his thinking. Benjamin set himself a new goal: "If I was going to stay in the industry, I wanted to work on a big project."

His passion for running played a major role in this process. "When I was training, I was thinking about it. I'm a competitor, I need challenges, I want to progress. I need a dynamic", says Benjamin. The opportunity offered by ACC came up in a non-professional context: "Someone I knew at my club at the time told me about ACC. I asked around and looked at the website. It matched my values. I sent in my CV and cover letter."

Benjamin Ryckelynck a rejoint ACC en avril 2023.

From the very first interviews, Benjamin detected "a team spirit. In a big company, you're not alone when you're faced with problems". His application and his personality led him to become a plant operator. It's an opportunity that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for Benjamin: "What I like about it is that you get to play a part in the company's development. We all have our part to play. We're all important, that's clear. I enjoy proving myself. I have to redouble my efforts," he says, using a sporting metaphor.

What exactly does the job of facilities manager involve? "Piloting a group of robotised or automated installations, making sure that production is fluid and constant. My tasks include applying safety rules, checking that the line and the various processes are working properly, such as gluing tests, welding or electrical tests. The plant operator has to follow a monitoring plan to ensure product conformity." In the event of a breakdown or anomaly, "we have to be able to carry out first-level maintenance on the line", he says.

Benjamin arrived at the beginning of April 2023, after three months' training at the pilot plant in Nersac, near Angoulême. He is now working on the Assembly Module, the final stage in the Gigafactory manufacturing process, where several cells are connected together to form a block weighing around thirty kilos. This block will be one of the components of the future battery pack, assembled on the customer's premises.

What appeals to Benjamin about this environment? "There's quite a lot of process, I get to see machines in motion, and the programming aspect. I get to see my product evolve. The Assembly Module is at the end of the line, which is pretty cool."

Le Module Assembly est situé en bout de chaîne.

Benjamin is aware that he's living a unique adventure in Billy-Berclau: "I saw the building almost empty. I knew the baby from the start. I'm always surprised by the dimensions. When I got home, I described it to my wife as a cathedral. You don't get many chances to experience the creation of a factory, and on this scale too! I want to see it grow like a baby."

In order to maintain a perfect balance, Benjamin is going to manage his facilities in the same way as he manages his sporting career: with determination and concentration. Benjamin finished 42nd out of 55,000 participants in the 2017 Paris Marathon, in 2h29 min. In 2023, he came 14th in the Route du Louvre (fourth in France): his participation that year was closely linked to his commitment to ACC: "I signed up on a whim, without any preparation. At the time I was in Nersac. But I felt so good, I felt liberated...". Benjamin covered the 42.195 km of the event in 2 hours 37 minutes. A crazy challenge.  Benjamin and ACC were made for each other.

Benjamin Ryckelynck a rejoint ACC en avril 2023.