Mining engineers are facing a whirlwind of change as technology and innovation continue to advance at a rapid pace.
Subsequently, it has become essential to consistently update their knowledge base in order to keep up to date with the latest equipment.
This, coupled with additional demands from customers for companies to adapt and evolve, has led to the introduction of HYDAC’s training centre.
For companies in the fluid power industry, the challenge posed to them has been to improve reliability, reduce the size and weight of components and systems, while also reducing the environmental impact of their work.
To stay competitive, fluid power companies must now be open to the concept of lifelong learning for their staff and supporting them through continuous improvement, according to HYDAC.
Its training centre offers 10 practical courses on a variety of topics with some being nationally recognised.
The courses range from understanding the basics of hydraulics to electro-proportional control, thermal optimisation, sensors and measurement, predictive maintenance and Industry 4.0 related technologies Having worked at HYDAC for more than two years, trainer Ian Moore says one of the biggest benefits of the training is it allows students to ‘learn-by-doing’.
“Most people are tactile learners,the best way is to learn by doing,” Moore says.
“The training offers a mixture of two formats, which include hands-on and classroom components, a combination of both mix well together.”
Getting out of the classroom has allowed students to get their hands on the products and practice using HYDAC’s latest technology, such as the electro-hydraulic training rigs and control technology products.
Despite the company being based in Germany, HYDAC’s Australian training centres are the only ones that offer the service to personnel outside the company.
Given the increased reliance on automation around mine sites, in particular, Moore says the move to offer the training industry-wide is beneficial to both HYDAC and mining companies.
For hydraulics, in particular, the risks of not engaging in training are vast, according to Moore, given that the “mining industry is one of the most dangerous industries going around.”
“The basis of fluid power is to work at a level with more heavy material involving minimal input, it’s multiplied power and because of that, there are a lot of forces and pressure involved with pressurised fluid,” Moore explains.
“When we’re talking about hundreds of bars of pressure, the equipment itself becomes a dangerous weapon if they’re in the wrong hands.”
As equipment becomes more sophisticated, Moore points out that training is essential to ensure engineers keep up to date with the latest technology.
“In recent years there has been a move towards automation, particularly machines that run themselves, such as self-driven mining trucks, this is at the forefront of HYDAC’s mind,” he says.
“HYDAC is really into automation and moving into new technologies like augmented reality, that’s where we are pushing forward.”
While the most popular course being offered at the training centre is the level one entry course, there has also been interest in the more complex and sophisticated learnings associated with hydraulics.
Each course is aligned to a unit of competency related to hydraulics, ranging from level one to five, with content based on federal guidelines for the engineering sector.
The courses are held in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Newcastle and represent the only manufacturing company in Australia that offers real-time training.
Having worked in hydraulics for nearly 10 years across different fields, Moore says he has noticed a lack of education when it comes to equipment.
“I’ve done training sessions where people working in hydraulics have just been amazed at what they don’t know,” he says.
“It just astounds me how many people working in the industry aren’t trained or don’t have adequate knowledge regarding this equipment.”
The popularity of HYDAC’s training centre has led to the company being recognised as an ABA100 winner for training excellence and has Moore thinking about what’s ahead, admitting that the concept of training through virtual reality (VR) isn’t far away.
While HYDAC continues to improve the capabilities of its own hydraulic engineers, the wider mining industry is also set to reap the benefits of a more knowledgeable and experienced workforce.
Source: Australian Mining magazine, September 2019