Escea People: Introducing Raylene

Raylene Ralston, Leading Hand of Electronics, Packing & Functional Testing.


With ambitions of being a Marine Biologist, Raylene couldn’t have gotten further away from this initial idea if she tried. Basically, she realised Dunedin’s water was way too cold. Instead, Raylene ended up with a 20-year career at Dunedin’s Fisher and Paykel factory until they closed. Working in the enamelling and assembly departments, just another day-to-day job wasn’t going to do. But with manufacturing jobs dwindling in Dunedin, the chances weren’t looking good. So Raylene went on to train as a Dental Assistant. Four years went by but Raylene still thought of the days in the high-energy, innovative and action-packed manufacturing industry. Until, 2.5 years ago, Escea advertised a job right up her alley.

The thing that appealed the most to Raylene was the efficient processes implemented to ensure smooth operations – very similar to F&P, she comments. While some things were similar, Escea was refreshingly different. “The atmosphere is so much more easy-going but just as hard-working. The environment is supportive, engaging. And, at Escea, we have so much more input and our ideas matter”.

When I asked if she would recommend a job in the manufacturing industry for a woman, she immediately replied, “Yes, of course. There are actually a lot of women in the industry at the moment. But we can always do with more”.

A day in the life of Raylene:

The process begins with checking all of the fire’s electronics. This includes: checking the remotes are functional and are talking to the fire trays (the electronic heart of the fire).

Next, Raylene moves to the manufacturing and packing area. Raylene fits the electronics into the fire, making sure the right parts are being fitted into the right fires. This includes the fire trays and connecting the wires together. Then Raylene completes a leak test. The leak test is performed with air to ensure there is no possibility of a gas leakage. It also tests that the fireplace has been built correctly – if there are any loose screws or unaligned components, the leak test will indicate that the fireplace needs to be readjusted before packing.


Raylene moves the completed fireplaces to the burn off sector. The burn off phase serves many purposes: to burn off any paint fumes, test that the remote is talking to the fire, check and adjust the flame effect, make sure the flame colour suits the gas type, examine the functionality of all of the components and lastly, complete a final electrical examination. It lasts around 56 minutes – 46 minutes of flame and 10 minutes of cooling. Once completed, and Raylene has given her stamp of approval, the fireplace is moved onto a rolling conveyor, which carries the fireplace around to the packing area.

With New Zealand moving into the winter season, Raylene loves having the warmest spot in the factory on a crisp Dunedin day.


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