/ MEDIA STATEMENT / This content is not written by Creamer Media, but is a supplied media statement.
There is a strong trend towards automation in Africa, linked with the realization that automation brings multiple benefits. Training is vital to generate these benefits.
Automation in Africa is being driven by a number of key factors. Productivity is high up the list. Companies are constantly striving for ways to generate savings and be more productive. The Internet of Things (IoT) facilitates productivity. It enables companies to collect more data on their operations, which helps them see more clearly where to increase efficiency, improve productivity, and make savings. And ultimately to improve profitability and strengthen a company’s competitive advantage.
At Graco we are keen to support our customers in this drive towards automation. We manufacture a broad range of equipment to move, measure, mix, control, dispense and spray virtually any liquid or paste. Many of our products are now connected via the IoT, and are used somewhere along the manufacturing line of most of the items that you and I use daily. In Africa, Graco focuses on the mining, construction, processing, agriculture, automotive, marine, and oil & gas sectors.
A clear example of the benefits of automation is our automatic lubrication system. It’s used to continuously lubricate all sorts of industrial equipment and vehicles. 54% of bearing failures are related to the lubrication process of the bearings, yet manual lubrication is notoriously inefficient. By automating the process, all bearings receive the correct amount of lubrication at regular dosing intervals while the equipment is in operation. This reduces maintenance costs and increases equipment lifetime.
At the same time, we are aware that a concern that a company might have when moving from manual to automated operations is the effect of automation on their operators. To counter this, we invest heavily in training operators, and we have several training platforms to support our customers in Africa. Our African distributors can make full use of our well-developed training facility in Belgium where they can enroll for a variety of training sessions. The concept is to train the trainer; to enable distributors to support and train operators in their respective countries.
We provide localized, practical hands-on training via our dedicated African trainer. He travels across Africa to provide training on how to operate, maintain and troubleshoot Graco equipment. We have also established a training and demo centre in Johannesburg where more structured training can be given. I was recently encouraged to see how the Johannesburg center is supporting our end-users in Burkina Faso.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to take a more virtual approach to our training. We have therefore invested in equipment to enable virtual training from the demo and training center. This is not merely one-way communication. It’s interactive, enabling the trainee to apply what he or she has learned, and get immediate feedback and advice from the trainer.
We also run our own Graco University. This too is online, and therefore ideally placed for virtual training and education during the pandemic. More than 300 training courses cover the entire range of our products. The trainee can log into the University and work through courses at their own speed. At the end of the course, the trainee receives a certificate. We also run weekly webinars on Graco products.
Of course we do not just operate in the virtual world. Let’s not forget our conventional and much-loved Graco product manuals. These are a rich source of information about everything relating to our products: safety aspects, installation, operation guidelines, troubleshooting, part numbers, and more.
We are also constantly bringing out new products to support our customers in Africa as they move towards automated solutions. Here are three examples. Our EcoQuip vapor abrasive blasting unit eliminates dust by 92%, and saves 50% on blasting media. Our XP and XM plural-component paint sprayers eliminate hand-mixing of 2K paints, resulting in on-ratio spraying, reduced waste of premixed material, and less maintenance of paint sprayers. Our entry-level GX airless sprayers are affordable enough for the small painting contractor to convert from brush and roller to airless paint spraying. A room that would take hours to paint can now be painted in 10 to 20 minutes, resulting in a more productive and profitable contractor.
With products like these, and the training to support them, Graco is continuing to drive the trend towards automation in Africa. For more information: www.graco.com/mining.