The demand for specialist hydraulic training continues to increase, particularly from end-users in and manufacturers servicing the industrial and mining sectors, says training company Hydraulic Training & Consultants MD Walter Zimmerman.
“The shortage of hydraulic skills is, however, not unique to South Africa,” he emphasises.
South Africa continues to experience a shortage of suitably qualified graduates entering the industry. This shortage results in an increasing workload for existing personnel, resulting in staff not being available as mentors to pass on their knowledge and experience.
“Properly maintained hydraulic equipment is, unfortunately, not the norm. Many systems fail prematurely, resulting in losses of millions of rands in labour, spares and downtime costs each year, as inadequately trained personnel do not know how to deal with hydraulic challenges.Training is becoming increasingly critical. If a company does not train its personnel, specialists may be needed to handle troubleshooting and repairs. This will prove costly and increasingly difficult, as there are fewer skilled people available.
“The principles and basics in hydraulics have never changed,” Zimmerman states, adding that the content of Hydraulic Training & Consul- tants’ basic-intermediate courses have, therefore, remained the same, while the methods of presentation have changed. Updated material now includes simulations on operating components and circuits, Zimmerman states.
At an advanced training level, changes to the course material have been prompted by the need to remain dynamic and constantly moni- tor the changing demands in the fluid power industry, he notes, adding that hydraulics training is taking place in-house more often.
To deal with the need for in-house training, Hydraulic Training & Consultants offers short-term courses aimed at a range of dele- gates, from the artisan to the professional engineer and newcomers to the field, who require a sound understanding of hydraulics and its application.
Zimmerman notes that properly trained hydraulic manufacturers ensure that the equipment delivered to end-users, such as mines, meets their requirements. They are further supported by suppliers, which can provide proper maintenance.
While Hydraulic Training & Consultants mostly trains manufacturers of hydraulic equipment that supply the mines, it also trains mineworkers.
Alternatively, mining companies send their employees to suppliers of hydraulic equipment for training on how to use and maintain such equipment.
End-users are one of the largest segments of the fluid power market, he notes. Often, all they require are short-term courses that provide a quick introduction to hydraulics and knowledge on how to maintain the equipment, Zimmerman tells Mining Weekly.