In these tough economic times, it is crucially important to provide a consistent, high standard of training for workforces in the materials handling and conveying industry, says industry body Conveyor Manufacturers Association (CMA) chairperson Simon Curry.
“Companies tend to reduce training budgets in an attempt to cut costs. “While this is understandable under the circumstances, it has far-reaching, often negative and expensive, consequences.”
Curry explains that, a poorly trained and unskilled workforce does not have the knowledge to spot problem areas in the conveying system, which means that maintenance is generally poor. This results in frequent breakdowns and constant problems in the system.
“Increased conveyor belt breakages, substandard belt splicing and other mechanical and electrical problems result in longer periods of downtime, higher maintenance costs and expensive component replacement,” he says.
It is for this reason that the CMA advises companies to take advantage of the various training and diploma courses offered by the association, noting that training courses have been specifically designed to meet the needs of the industry.
For example, the association offers an intensive six-day diploma course in the design and operation of belt conveyors. This course is targeted at engineers, technicians and other personnel that require specific knowledge of bulk materials handling, with a focus on conveyors belts, as well as those who wish to increase the level of their continuous professional development.
Further, to cater for artisans, draughtsmen, junior sales people, engineers, apprentices and technicians newly employed in the industry, there is a three-day conveyor certificate course which covers the basics of conveyor operation, types of conveyors, components, belt maintenance, splicing and safety.
There is also a three-day introductory course aimed at supervisors, which focuses on the splicing of textile-reinforced belting and presents an overview of belt splicing that emphasises best practice to achieve successful, long-lasting splices. The association asserts that this results in better safety, reduced downtime and significant savings by preventing damage to the belt and conveyor structure.
Additionally, the CMA recently introduced an exhaustive three-day course in chute design, which is jointly held by the CMA, the Centre for Mechanised Mining Systems and the University of the Witwatersrand. The course is presented by leading Australian and South African practitioners in chute design.
Lastly, beltsmen, artisans and operating staff can attend a one-day beltsman certificate course held on-site at the request of companies in the industry. The course covers both theoretical and practical aspects of belts and conveyor systems, and includes as much information as possible concerning the day-to-day operation and maintenance of conveyors and belts. The course is designed to familiarise attendees with the procedures required for the efficient performance of conveyor belts.
About the Membership
Owing to the fact that the South African conveyor industry has an extremely large number of manufacturers all competing fiercely for a limited amount of business, the short- term savings effected through the purchase of low-quality products are soon lost in premature replacement and, in some cases, the original supplier is no longer in business or in a position to provide a meaningful guarantee.
Being a member of the CMA is, thus, beneficial because it appeals to buyers to look beyond pure price considerations and ensure the growth of the industry where companies can progress by reinvesting part of their income in product development and innovative engineering.
Moreover, the members are required to maintain a high level of technical expertise and service within their organisations, as well as an effective after-sales service. Further, they must be companies of stature, fully capable of honouring any warranty claim that may arise.