HANDS-ON Experience-based training groomed artisans for real operations
Global engineering company Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology Southern Africa will launch its Mechatronic Training Programme, which is a competence service offering that aims to take advantage of the changing world of business by equipping its current workforce with competences to work on intelligent equipment and machinery in ‘the Sandvik way’.
Mechatronics will also be introduced to prepare the workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), says Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology Southern Africa human resources (HR) development manager Vusi Mnguni.
“Mechatronics offers a competitive advantage to the current Sandvik workforce and for people coming into the organisation,” he says, adding that, owing to 4IR, Sandvik also included building competence for the future as one of its strategic focus areas.
Mnguni explains that the decision has been made to initially focus on millwrights because, fundamentally, millwrights have exposure to both the electrical and mechanical elements of equipment. Mnguni confirms that other trades will be considered in due course. The company’s view, based on experience, is that a millwright requires a shorter training period to transition into a mechatronics technician.
“Automation and digitalisation are key focus areas and an important part of our strategy from a company point of view, so we need to ensure we understand which competences our people need to be upskilled on,” Sandvik Mining & Rock Technology Southern Africa HR manager Jan Prinsloo tells Mining Weekly.
Mnguni says: “Sandvik provides the industry with intelligent machines and with the mechatronics programme; we provide our employees with the skills required to keep the intelligent machines working.”
Prinsloo adds that classroom skills training is not the most effective approach, and that experience-based training has become “second nature in industry”.
Sandvik’s learning approach is based on the 70, 20, 10 principle, where 70% of the training is practical experience before being exposed to the real environment, Prinsloo explains.
Key advantages of experience-based training include a virtual offering in real time and experience in “the real world”, as well as opportunities to practise and aquire competences in maintenance on imaginary or virtual environments, says Mnguni.
Moreover, safety is enhanced as the accident factor is eliminated. Experience-based training offers individuals an environment where they can practise, make mistakes and learn from the simulated environment without the risks associated with the real world. Virtual training and experience further allow for time saving in real operations.
Mnguni further explains that the simulated environment permits the content designer to introduce faults into the training modules that give the trainees an opportunity to diagnose. “Because a significant percentage of an artisan’s job is fault finding, it gives them an opportunity to reduce time wastage in real life.”
With demand for experience-based training continuing to grow, Sandvik is also looking to expand its simulation-based offering. This new focus is in addition to the introduction of the Sandvik Operator Training Simulator, which provides a compact and flexible solution to safely train operators and maintenance teams.
As part of the fundamental process in redeveloping competences, Sandvik has developed and offers in-house leadership programmes, such as the Sandvik Global Leadership Programme (SGL) and the Sandvik Management Programme (SMP).
These programmes are aimed at capacitating the company’s leadership teams and providing managers with additional practical exposure. SGL comprises three short modules that run over several days, while SMP comprises 12 to 13 modules, runs over about 40 days and includes a project.
“We take them out of the client environment and put them in a situation where their ability to adapt is tested – that is actually allowing them to make mistakes and learn,” he says.
The programmes are aligned with the requirements set out by the South African Qualifications Authority and the National Qualifications Framework.
With demand for Sandvik’s SMP increasing, the company aims to introduce an advanced version of the programme later this year.
The company also offers five learnership programmes comprising apprenticeships, internships, engineering graduate programmes, experiential learning initiatives and business-related learnerships.