More than sixty per cent of all capital equipment-related accidents are the result of inadequate training, which companies can combat by introducing training strategies that allow the constant monitoring and upskilling of staff, states training provider Alusani Skills & Training Network maintenance, engineering and operations expert Allan Tarita.
He notes that, while some companies do have good operating strategies, many are unable to execute them because of economic pressures, such as project timelines, weather disruptions, labour disputes and logistical challenges.
“As capital equipment needs differ between companies, a generic mandate cannot be applied to all equipment across industries,” Tarita points out.
Therefore, companies need to train staff in-house and tailor their skills to specific equipment, he adds, noting that many large construction companies are experimenting with in-house training and are reaping the benefits of this approach.
Tarita warns that inadequate training causes safety, environmental, labour and production-loss challenges, owing to equipment failures, which are the result of inadequate maintenance procedures.
“Training is a continuous process because employees often become complacent; therefore, companies need to ensure that all procedures are adhered to.”
He emphasises that an auditing process associated with training requirements should be in place across all industries to ensure adequate training, which will lead to a safer working environment, with reduced downtime and production losses.
“If a project is running smoothly and according to plan, the chance of error is small. But if a project is under pressure, it could lead to many safety issues if employees are not properly skilled to deal with certain situations,” Tarita says, highlighting the need for companies to have business ideals that include continuously training their workers, which will reduce losses with regard to employees and production.
Equipment maintenance should also be a top priority to ensure that capital equipment can serve a full life cycle. “As capital equipment progresses through its life cycle, its maintenance needs change and companies need to be attuned to it to keep the equipment maintained and fit for production.
“The realisation of improving equipment performance and ensuring a full life cycle for capital equipment requires the constant upskilling of staff, which companies are slowly starting to realise,” Tarita notes.
He says many large companies in South Africa are realising that the traditional syllabus used to train artisans is weak; therefore, companies are studying not only their original-equipment manuals, but also the failure modes and effects studies of their capital equipment.
These aspects can reveal the skills required to maintain a specific piece of equipment and enable companies to internally create new training syllabuses that include processes specific to their equipment and needs, explains Tarita, who adds that a combination of internal training and general training gained at companies like Alusani Skills & Training Network ensures better safety and equipment reliability.
He points out that, while South Africa has adequate skills to grow the construction industry, it needs to ensure that its skills base is updated and improved simultaneously with capital equipment advancements.
“The technology that controls capital equipment is constantly being upgraded and updated. Companies prefer a computerised approach to monitor equipment health, as this saves time and enables the maintenance team to monitor activities daily,” Tarita explains.
Therefore, higher-skilled operating personnel are needed to interpret computer data, which allows an assessment of the equipment’s condition, and to repair the equipment.
“As we become more automated and computerised, many construction companies are assuming that their sensing and monitoring equipment are delivering accurate results.
“However, as companies are not playing such an active role in inspection and observation procedures, as they did when capital equipment was mostly mechanised, the capital equipment becomes damaged when sensors and monitoring equipment are faulty or provide incorrect readings,” Tarita explains.