In a previous article, we looked at the value of training operators. This clearly has huge cost saving implications for any business operating machinery. Not only do trained operators have greater output, but their machinery should be more reliable and have a longer service life.
Trained staff are also much less likely to have accidents by understanding the limits of their machinery, how to set-up for more challenging conditions, and how to assess risk more accurately.
In this article, we look at the value of training the staff that support the operator and the machines they use. There are very good reasons for training service staff: to get the best possible performance from a machine and also to ensure personal safety and the safety of others.
Despite the best efforts of trained operators, things will go wrong as all machinery is capable of developing faults. Where there is mechanical damage, the basic skills of repair and replace will usually suffice. Bent lift arms and pivot pins and damaged cutting units (caused by manhole covers and other obstructions) are all regular fare to the workshop staff. Whilst blade wear and damage can be reduced by training, it is not preventable and, as with mechanical damage, replacement is fairly straight-forward fitting work.
Additional training and knowledge is often required for diagnosing faults and understanding how the machinery actually works. In this instance, attending a manufacturer's course can be of real assistance.
High oil pressures are used in modern machinery, and the new common rail diesel engines can have extreme pressures in the fuel lines, so there are some real safety issues to be addressed before staff start to work on them, or diagnose faults themselves. Liquid injection injuries are serious and always require medical attention. Where there are hybrid, or battery/electric machinery being serviced, there are high voltage circuits and potentially lethal power stored within battery packs. Correct training is essential for safe maintenance or repair work to be carried out.
Operator's Instruction Book
It goes without saying that you should always read the manual! Dealer workshops and manufacturer's help desks are constantly being contacted by customers who want basic information about their machines, which is printed in the manual. If you don't have the manual, you can find most of them online, and you can download the right one, for free! If there is a separate maintenance manual, the technician should always refer to this before calling the dealer, or attempting any repairs themselves.
It is so often the case that poor performing machinery has simply not been correctly set-up by the operator, or by the workshop staff who serviced it. The machine then continues to suffer, or sees repeated failures and downtime.
Forgetting the basics, or being oblivious to the obvious, are common faults in all of us, but an expensive call-out charge can result in a red face if the basics are not correctly checked to start with.
Operators expect that any machine returned to them after a service will have been correctly set-up. We often hear the words "that's how they sent it out" from operators when challenged over incorrect settings and adjustments. Whilst it is their individual responsibility, such errors are less likely if the workshop gets it right in the first place.
Factory Training Courses
Most of the major manufacturers will run workshop courses for customer service staff. There may be the chance of having the training delivered on site, using your own machinery, which can save the cost and complication of sending staff away for training courses. It is recommended that you contact your supplier or the manufacturer directly to ask what training courses they can provide.
The courses will cover machinery safety, an overview of all of the controls and their functions and settings and adjustments, so your staff can set-up the machines correctly, to suit the conditions and environment. The actual depth of the training will depend on the knowledge levels of the groups attending them, but full hydraulic system testing and diagnostics using commonly available tools and equipment should be available to those who wish to carry out their own service and repairs.
Even the most experienced technicians will learn something new by attending a good course. Understanding the flashing lights and fault codes on control modules can save hours of diagnostic time, and potentially hundreds of pounds by avoiding incorrectly replaced spare parts.
Sharing experience with others and making a contact from the manufacturer can also be hugely beneficial to both parties.
It certainly helps to have trained staff when potential warranty failures occur. If the staff have attended training courses and followed good practice, there are likely to be less awkward questions over potentially expensive repairs. In most cases, there is not just the failure of a manufactured part; there is also the way the machine has been used, how it has been maintained and the nature of any previous repairs prior to the failure, all of which can affect the outcome of a claim.
Training has a cost, and it is an expense. However, there are huge benefits to the individual, in terms of their ability to perform better, and also benefits to the business of having more reliable machinery, and a better, faster repair service. Training is not a cost to the business, but an investment; one that is surely worth making.