HYDAC focused on actively solving complex machinery skills deficit
HYDAC is committed to providing fluid engineering equipment training in various formats to balance out the lack of know-how that plagues many industries and end users.
The operation, maintenance and repair of complex fluid power equipment skills shortage relevant to just about every Australian industry is well known.
What is required is more student and technician training on advanced — ever more complicated — and potentially dangerous fluid engineering equipment. This training must generate “competent and qualified people” who are “grounded in basic knowledge and skills as well as being multi-skilled and adaptable” to evolving work requirements, said HYDAC Australia Managing Director Mark Keen.
“This is both urgent and important, because the technology is changing very quickly in every industry, with the fluid power industry embracing a lot of electrohydraulic integration,” he said.
Dearth of educational training facilities and courses
Keen highlights that in HYDAC’s experience there is a dearth of educational facilities and trainers to meet this skills deficit, including Victoria’s top five universities.
“And yes, these institutions do offer mechatronic courses in a basic way; however a student of mechatronics that I take out of university is a blank sheet of paper most of the time — there is little or no exposure to hydraulic systems in university training,” he said. “Surely it is not possible for them to cover every industry, but hydraulics is important and needs to be taught.”
As to TAFE colleges, he points out that the few he has visited often feature equipment dating back 20 to 30 years.
“It’s not their fault it hasn’t been modernised but it doesn’t change the fact it’s mostly irrelevant,” he said. “So this is where we’re really stepping up: we’re challenging the current education systems as to why hydraulics is not taught — why it has been deleted from the educational system — when the construction industry, power generation, mining and almost all other industries from food processing to defence are highly reliant on hydraulic equipment.”
QR codes a quick and easy solution
HYDAC, said Keen, offers education and training “to give something back and create some balance”.
In this regard the fluid power company is spending tens of thousands of hours developing and modelling courses by dedicated personnel.
“Surely, bespoke training on specific machinery is the highest level and most attractive,” he said. “The limitation here is affordability, and to overcome this we’re going to a new level of integration for customers that want the features and benefits without the huge costs.”
This comes in the form of scanning a finished system with a high resolution ($75,000) scanner that creates a master training module and then embeds easy-to-create QR codes into the model defining HYDAC’s equipment. These codes enable an operator to easily access pre-programmed, pop-up information from a filter or an electrical control box, as an example, via a smartphone, tablet or HYDAC Tools app.
Usage of QR codes has not been taken up as much as they could be in manufacturing even though the technology can optimise project management and supply chain processes as well as print marketing.
“This is an innovative way of bringing in information,” said Keen. “I’ve already designed many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, which I can bring together very cost effectively in a package by doing the smart scanning and QR code integration.
“And I think this is really interesting for Australian industry and, of course, it has nothing to do with hydraulics — it can be applied to any application in the sector and that’s the exciting part of using this emerging technology that I appreciate.
“And we can be a good partner to others who have an interest in the sector as well.”
HYDAC’s training options
HYDAC, as a certified regional training centre for Asia/Pacific, has a comprehensive range of standard training options selectable from its training calendars for courses running on standing programs through to fully customised programs.
Nationally recognised courses on a variety of topics span the basics of hydraulics to thermal optimisation, filtration, electronics and predictive maintenance/Industry 4.0. This has grown to a complete portfolio of training courses and systems integration, with the service side a focus point.
Students learn not only in the classroom but also have the opportunity to handle company equipment such as electrohydraulic training and cooling systems rigs, according to HYDAC Technical Training Manager Paul Marley.
Technicians and trainers can also make use of HYDAC’s VR training and soon-to-be-released augmented reality (AR) training, with options for direct field service support.
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