The hydraulics sector in South Africa could benefit from more highly skilled hydraulics experts, says hydraulics company Axiom Hydraulics GM Eugene Tondolo.
“The hydraulics sector is unique in that it is small in terms of the pool of skilled professionals, but big in terms of value,” he explains.
Tondolo tells Mining Weekly that one of the problems with creating skilled hydraulics experts is that hydraulics is often perceived as a somewhat mysterious field of expertise.
“The technology of hydraulics is somewhat hidden, although there have been improvements in recent years as the sector has sought to educate industry more,” he explains.
Compared with other sectors, it is not as open to new entrants being trained and getting experience because there are not as many widely available, official hydraulics training courses and mentorships.
Moreover, it is not commonly understood how broad the scope of hydraulics is because it is generally embedded within a wide range of technologies, many of them essential to mining equipment.
Tondolo claims that even experienced people working in the hydraulics industry may not understand certain aspects of hydraulics because it falls within a subsector not well known to them.
“The small pool of hydraulic experts in the country prevents the South African market from adopting its own good technical base in-country. By increasing our know-how in South Africa, we can definitely increase the number of homegrown hydraulic technologies and manufacturing capability.”
To achieve this, Tondolo believes that there should be more accessible training and mentorship programmes in the hydraulics sector.
Tondolo says that, although some decent hydraulic training programmes exist, more official hydraulic programmes could be offered by the sector.
Expert hydraulic skills are much needed, since the majority of systems that depend on hydraulics are life-carrying systems, such as cranes, lifts and steering systems; therefore, proper knowledge of the systems is essential to ensure safety.
Axiom Hydraulics provides in-house training for its employees, where training is provided for new employees who have very little to no experience.