June 5, 2015
Training provides employees with new skills and knowledge, empowering them to set and achieve ever-higher productivity goals for themselves and their organizations. This is amply demonstrated by two Atlas Copco competence centers: one in India and the other in South Africa.
In today’s ever-demanding business world, clients’ needs don’t end after they’ve bought tools or machinery. Most customers purchase Atlas Copco equipment with the expectation of enhanced and sustained productivity. Without a properly trained staff, however, high-quality support is impossible. That’s why Atlas Copco has invested heavily in training centers around the world: to provide exemplary aftermarket support.
Built on the cornerstone of providing first-class service with highly-trained personnel, the Global Engineering Center India Airpower (GECIA) in India and ACademy training center in South Africa are two noteworthy, if very different, examples of such investments. The center in India is an example of engineering expertise made available to the entire Atlas Copco Group, while the latter fo-cuses on artisan training and development. Both competence centers provide customers with the assurance that Atlas Copco’s support staff is skilled, motivated and up-to-date with the latest information.
Atlas Copco’s engineering center in India, GECIA, specializes in supporting the Group and supplying training for employees.
Based in Pune, India, GECIA focuses on providing value-added engineering services within the Compressor Technique business area. The center, started in 2002, is unique because of its broad range of capabilities: software tools, competency training and extensive product knowledge all in one location.
GECIA offers Atlas Copco customers added-value services specializing in mechanical engineering, analysis, computer-aided engineering (CAE), electrical and control design, software development, and documentation. From providing technical literature for products to the conversion of data software, the range of services GECIA provides is based on specific customer needs.
Additionally, staff at GECIA are provided with on-site technical training (in products, processes, technical tools) and soft-skill training (in communication, leadership, time management) to ensure the proliferation of competency across the organization.
Mukesh Lalchandani, Project Manager, Mechanical Design Services, started his career at GECIA in 2007. “When I started here I was responsible for supporting a team working with the Gas and Process division. Since then I’ve been given the responsibility to manage and develop teams for different customers, providing solutions along with service.”
Thanks to the ongoing education programs available at GECIA, employees are able to expand their knowledge across divisions. Ganesh Wadkar, Project Leader, Mechanical Designs says, “After working in technical literature and establishing a good knowledge about the product range of portable air and airpower, I showed an interest in working in mechanical design competence and was given an opportunity to pursue that interest.” Currently, 120 people work at the center in Pune and an additional 20 work overseas. GECIA continues to look ahead with plans to recruit 30 more employees this year.
Atlas Copco’s ACademy training center in South Africa helps to provide the company and continent with skilled workers.
Launched in 2007 in Witfield, South Africa, the ACademy training center (‘AC’ for Atlas Copco) is the region’s development and training headquarters. The support center was established to serve three distinct functions: developing the approximately 1 000 employees in the Atlas Copco Group in South Africa, managing the Apprenticeship Program and executing the Training in Africa project.
The ACademy drives the employee training process by identifying knowledge or competency gaps and designing programs to close them. “We provide our managers and employees with tools for identifying skill gaps and training needs,” says Kathryn Smith, Marketing and Communications Manager. In 2010 alone, each employee at Atlas Copco South Africa received an average of 39 hours of training, for a total of 39 005 training hours.
The Apprenticeship Program is a technically oriented training initiative. The program has grown from an initial group of five apprentices in 2007 to the 57 currently in training. The ACademy boasts regularly updated equipment and large classrooms and workshops, offering apprentices the theoretical and hands-on knowledge required for a highly skilled profession. “Today’s artisan has to be a mechanic, an electrician and a hydraulics expert,” says Training Manager Charles Maake. Since its inception, only seven out of 65 apprentices have left the program. Maake attributes the high retention rate to the Artisan Coaching Program. “Each apprentice is assigned a coach, an Atlas Copco employee who can offer the apprentice some experience and insight,” he says. Coaches themselves undergo training to ensure they are well-equipped to meet the needs of the program’s young men and women.
The Training in Africa program covers product training normally offered by Atlas Copco in Sweden. The original focus of the program was to ensure that Atlas Copco’s technical staff and customers in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia possess the necessary knowledge for maintenance and repair procedures. Now the project encompasses all areas of competency development. By expanding its training activities into non-technical areas such as human resources, finance, logistics and general management, the ACademy provides Atlas Copco – and Africa – with a pool of local, qualified workers to further develop the continent’s business potential.
Atlas Copco simulators provide the perfect environment for operators to acquaint themselves with heavy equipment without endangering themselves or expensive machines. Heavy equipment operators use dynamic machines to perform industrious earth-shaping maneuvers. Whether in mining, construction or demolition, operators have to control these powerful tools accurately and with confidence. Considering the productivity benefits that are the result of efficient machine operation, it’s easy to see why effective training is essential. Still, the actual training process can be problematic, as the price of equipment is high and any damage to actual machines is directly felt during unplanned downtime.
Atlas Copco has solved this problem with its full-scale simulators. One such simulator is the Construction Tools hydraulic attachments simulator. This extremely realistic simulator, with authentic sound and visuals, moves in three dimensions and uses an exact replica of the interior of an excavator cabin. “The target groups for training include Atlas Copco employees, distributors and excavator operators,” says Michael Gaar, Communications Manager at Atlas Copco Construction Tools. Learning on the simulator allows operators to make mistakes without damaging consequences and to perfect their technique. Says Gaar, “The benefit is that you get trained in how to use the equipment efficiently. For example, you learn which angle the breaker has to be positioned in order to break rock as quickly and securely as possible.”
“Today’s artisan has to be a mechanic, an electrician and a hydraulics expert.” Charles Maake, Training Manager
Written by Jean-Paul Small