Properly trained operations and maintenance personnel at industrial plants will keep motors and drives running efficiently, effectively and with optimal power quality. New tools and technology are changing the way this training occurs, making it more personalized, interactive, accessible on demand and able to meet the needs of multiple learning styles.[pullquote]
Online opportunities: Multimedia training tools and free online knowledge bases provide an alternative to the traditional classroom environment. SEW-Eurodrive’s DriveAcademy offers an assortment of self-study learning options in addition to classroom instruction. “The online training page of our website is our first line of defense,” says Chris Doyle, SEW’s electronic trainer. “Simple repair or service steps are explained in slides or PDF documents. More technical applications are demonstrated using video footage with flash animations. Product manuals and step-by-step workbooks also are downloadable for free and on demand.”
Eaton supplements its instructor-led training with a variety of online, self-paced learning options. The 101 Basics Series, with titles such as “Adjustable Frequency Drives,” consists of Flash tutorials and mastery exams worth 0.1 CEU credits each. The company’s Launch n' Learn classes are technical and include application webinar presentations covering harmonics, surge protection and similar topics. Podcasts, video demos and a suite of instructional games and puzzles, like Eatonopoly, also are available on demand.
Interactive tools support fast and targeted learning. For instance, customers of Danfoss VLT Drives have online access to an interactive diagnostics tool to troubleshoot certain VLT variable frequency drives. Passive learning aids such as startup checklists, preventive maintenance instructions and programming guides, along with some videos, are downloadable. Danfoss customers also have free, online access to a series of adjustable and VFD lessons, each consisting of a pretest, tutorial and evaluation test.
Customization makes a curriculum more valuable. Coastal Training Technologies, part of DuPont Sustainable Solutions, offers more than 1,300 tailorable, interactive courses in its DuPont eLearning Suite. Among the 500-plus topics in the industrial technical training library is a popular six-part series on motor drives. The eLearning courses, available in 20 languages, can be customized with organization-specific video, graphics and talking points, along with tailor-made self-checks and post-tests to ensure subject mastery.
The classroom is king: Hands-on training is favored for walking through intricate steps. At Baldor, it’s also a means to build relationships. “In a live learning environment, customers can get their questions answered as they come to mind,” says Baldor Training Specialist Joe Bojanowski. “You can’t do that with videos, pre-programmed computer-based courses or webinars. With webinars, people in the ‘cloud’ tend to lose touch with what’s going on. And while on-demand video might be suitable for introducing the basics, a how-to video on a live unit would be enormous in size because of all the details wrapped around it.” He sees potential for live video feeds of product demonstrations when implementation costs come down.
Basic and intermediate training classes are available for SEW customers who prefer an interpersonal approach. SEW facilities have mock-ups and stands for hands-on training. When conducted at a customer’s site, the end users are taught using their own products.
The 10,000-sq-ft Power Systems Experience Center in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, is a controlled environment where Eaton products are trained, tested and demonstrated. The company’s equipment is operated live in six operating environments and monitored to reveal power-quality and energy-efficiency problems in real time. Competitive products are on hand for comparison.
Accredited training most often occurs in person. “The Danfoss VLT Drive training program has been accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and offers participants the option of being awarded CEUs for successfully completing a training course,” says Jeff Duncan, director of marketing, Danfoss VLT Drives.
Keeping up with the changes: Changing drive technology is causing trainers to adapt their lesson plans. “A lot of background diagnostics now occur within the drives,” explains Bojanowski. “For drives with self-diagnostics, our customers need to learn how to call up the data, interpret problems such as tachometer loss or motor overload and make decisions on solutions.”
For SEW customers, targeted, personal assistance is available by calling the emergency support line, customer service or sales representative, or distributor. “Internal webinars, message boards and our learning management system help to keep the support personnel abreast of product line changes,” says Doyle.
E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].