A bright future will rely even more on training

Change the culture, fill the skills gap.

Many organisations in the manufacturing sector have had to hit the pause button during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have taken the option of the reset button. However, no matter what – don’t focus on the negative. There are too many positives out there for you not to take hold of, so use this time to optimise your business.

If you are dealing with a temporary downturn or lull, Gisbert Ledvon, director of business development – machine tools at Heidenhain Corporation, offers some advice for how to use your time productively. In a recent interview for IMTS spark, Ledvon mentioned the “OPTIMISE” acronym for improving business operations.

• Optimise operations throughout your company and supply chain
• Purchase locally, even if it means seeking out new suppliers
• Train your staff – teach your programmers and CAM operators more about the CNC control
• Invest in new technology – the cost of borrowing is at an historic low and government incentives are available (including tax credits)
• Monitor your efficiency – how much time is the CNC really making chips
• Innovate – get out of your comfort zone and explore new markets
• Zoom – the new method of conference calls is here to stay, so use it to stay in front of customers
• Execute on new information and data gathered

Train your employees – and yourself
The founders of Ikusasa CNC Training Centre recognised this fact and launched the company just over two years ago with a specific aim to train employees in G-Code programming, CNC setting and CNC machine operating. This vision of industry specific training has now expanded to include those that may not have the computer or machine skills required to participate in the above training courses. Training programmes for other areas associated with CNC machining that are necessary for an individual to become a skilled and competent CNC operator are currently being developed.

Ikusasa CNC Training Centre is a fully equipped lecture facility that includes all the latest tools to assist learners in grasping the intricacies of a CNC machine tool. The company has also invested in a 3-axis CNC milling machine and a 2-axis CNC lathe that are located alongside the lecture rooms

“The word Ikusasa roughly means future in Zulu, one of our local languages. If you add the word eliqhakazile it translates to bright future and this is our takeaway on the pandemic. You will only have a bright future if you invest in training your employees. You might even surprise yourself and take it further by training yourself,” said Ryan Scott, one of the founders of Ikusasa CNC Training Centre, Stillam CNC Programming Solutions and B&R Metrology.

“Training saves cost in the form of higher efficiency and reduced rework. It’s just that the costs of not training are difficult to quantify, affecting the perception of training’s return on investment.”

“Today, computer numerical control (CNC) machines are found almost everywhere, from small job shops in rural communities to large multinational companies in large urban areas. Truly, there is hardly a facet of manufacturing that is not in some way touched by what these innovative machine tools can do. Everyone involved in the manufacturing environment should be well aware of what is possible with these sophisticated machine tools.”

“One way to take the fear out of crashing an expensive new CNC machine is to train your shop floor employees, even if you already regard them, rightly or wrongly, as CNC operators or machinists. Even good programmers and operators benefit from training.”

Keeping employees motivated
“Since the declaration of the pandemic everything in the workplace has changed, but what keeps employees motivated and what employers and leaders can do remains the same.”

“Budget cutting is like pruning a tree. You need to do it to help your organisation thrive in the long run. But if you cut too much, in the wrong places, you might damage the tree. It’s common for companies to scale back their employee development efforts when it’s time to prune the organisational budget.”

“What’s important is that you don’t cut the learning opportunities that help people to be productive on a daily basis, or the ones that help them prepare for the accelerated pace of the workplace and the next big change that is sure to come. Employee development is a branch that bears fruit for your organisation. It can have a massive impact on the long-term health of your employees and business.”

Now merSETA accredited
“Although we have always upheld our training to the highest level, we now fulfil the merSETA requirements. I am proud to say that we have been accredited by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority and that we are excited to teach the valuable skills needed in the engineering industry that will contribute to creating jobs in South Africa.”

“Coupled with our Level 2 B-BBEE rating companies are able to claim back their skills levy if they send employees to us to be trained.”

The training centre includes a 10 and a 12-seater training room

Candidates completing the courses at Ikusasa CNC Training Centre will be skilled in G-Code, CNC setting and machine operating and the importance of tooling when machining. This includes the essential machine operations of cutting speed, the role of the toolholder, the purpose of a cutting tool coating and various other machining-related tasks that a machine shop will require. All of which are areas of machining that influence how quickly an employee can assimilate new tasks and respond to new challenges. Candidates are also trained practically on a CNC lathe and a CNC mill.

“Certificate holders will be able to gain entry to highly-skilled sectors in the mechanical engineering and the machine tool industry. While completing our courses they will also gain an insight into other areas such as pneumatics and hydraulics, robotics, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Computer Numeric Control (CNC), industrial Information Technology (IT), CAD and CAD/CAM software and measuring, which can open up further opportunities.”

For further details contact Ikusasa CNC Training Centre on TEL: 011 663 2600 or visit www.ikusasatraining.co.za