Cummins Africa continues to make a significant investment in its Learning Centre in Johannesburg. Not only are the facilities being upgraded and the turnover of trainees increased significantly, but the range of products, equipment and types of training offered have also been enhanced to cater for changing customer and industry requirements. Established in 2012, the Cummins Africa Learning Centre covers 20 Cummins engine and 12 power generation products at present and has expanded steadily from three to six classrooms.
The success has been so immense that a further expansion of the facilities is on the cards, reveals Cummins Africa regional technical training manager for the DBU (Distribution Business Unit), Kevin Padayachee. “We now need to look at our capacity and coverage throughout Africa. Our main task with the Africa Learning Centre is to ensure that we market ourselves properly so that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end-users are familiar with our products,” Padayachee explains.
South African legislation stipulates that any person working on driven or electrical machines has to be qualified by either by the manufacturer or through a local qualification process. A manufacturer’s qualification deems a person fit to operate or work on its equipment. Equally important is the fact that technicians are brand custodians who endorse the ethics of the Cummins organisation by providing exemplary customer service.
“A customer’s first impression of Cummins as a company is often the technicians. Hence an important part of the training is to promote the core values of the business,” Padayachee highlights. “When technicians realise how fundamental their behaviour is in creating a positive impression with customers, we find it instils immense confidence and pride in them.”
The Africa Learning Centre trains technicians for Cummins Africa’s distributor and dealer network, in addition to catering for its internal training and skills development needs. “Our focus is to upskill people. For example, we empower our OEMs, the people in their own workshops, so they are fully qualified and capable to repair and service our engines,” Padayachee points out.
The Africa Learning Centre trained 580 technicians in 2013, of which the ratio was 60 percent external and 40 percent internal. Last year saw a major shift towards training on Cummins power generation products due to electricity supply constraints in South Africa. This has resulted in a major need for standby and emergency power, together with the need for technicians to service and maintain such equipment.
“In 2014 we trained about 200 delegates exclusively on our power generation offering. Such delegates emerge from the training as ‘Cummins qualified’, which means they adhere to the highest standards and values of the company itself, as benchmarked globally by Cummins in the United States. The training requires an 85 percent pass rate on the theoretical portion and a 95 percent pass rate on the practical component, as per global standards,” Padayachee continues.
The training encompasses different skill levels. Level 1 is general product awareness and familiarisation, aimed at warranty and service clerks, apprentices and entry-level candidates such as mechanics. Padayachee stresses that the Africa Learning Centre trains both customer and Cummins’ staff. “Essentially we cover any end-user, whether it is Cummins, an OEM or an independent technician servicing the equipment. The only criterion is that the equipment is repaired or serviced to our international standards,” states Padayachee.
Level 2 training focuses on general repair and maintenance, while Levels 3 and 4 look at complex engine rebuilds. Health and safety is a critical focus at the Cummins Africa Learning Centre, which has achieved Makrosafe Gold status and ISO 18001 certification in terms of its compliance. “Continuous assessments on our standards and compliances are one of our daily practices with technicians through Job Safety Analysis. There is also a ‘Qualify the Qualifier’ (QTQ) process in place that looks at training trainers. This is critical in terms of succession planning and retention of qualified technicians,” Padayachee highlights.
Looking at the value that the Cummins Africa Learning Centre brings to the company and the industry as a whole, Padayachee concludes by adding that when technicians complete their courses, they are both empowered and upskilled in contributing to the highest level of internationally-recognised customer service.
Submitted by NGAGE Public Relations (http://media.ngage.co.za)