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It S Never Too Late (Or Too Early) To Learn

01 June 2001

It's never too late (or too early) to learn

The provision of fluid power training is flourishing; manufacturers and
their industry representatives are leading the way with special equipment
and structured courses - and age, for once, appears to pose no barriers.
Les Hunt reports

In April, the British Fluid Power Association, in conjunction with the
British Fluid Power Distributors Association, announced that its
executive committee had agreed to support the industry by awarding fluid
power scholarships. On trial since the beginning of the year, the scheme
has proved so popular that a number of candidates have been keen to
progress their education through a variety of course, seminars and
training initiatives. With the single proviso that course participants be
employed or supported by a BFPA/BFPDA member company, the scheme is open
to anyone who wants to further their knowledge of the subject, from age
16 on up. Indeed, the Association is keen to stress that age is no
barrier to participating in this new scheme.

And age, it seems, is no barrier where manufacturers' training
initiatives are concerned. With pneumatics now part of the Schools
Curriculum at Key Stage 4, youngsters get an early introduction to basic
circuit construction. Through organisations such as SMC's Pneu-User club
and Festo's Didactic division, schoolchildren can also obtain an exciting
insight into the world of engineering and get that all-important hands-on
experience through the use of specially designed equipment. Festo's
Modular Production System, which covers anything from basic circuit
design to quite complex mechatronic systems, SMC's Portable Training
Kits, which extends the training environment beyond the classroom, and
Thorite's Clip Technique training kits, which feature lightweight Norgren
components, are all good examples.

SMC hosts an annual School Technology Day at which teams of students
carry out a set 'task', a trophy being awarded at the end, to the team
with the best solution. At the industrial level, the company currently
offers City & Guilds 2340 and NVQ, and also provides successful
candidates with a 'Certificate of Competence'. Subjects range from the
fundamentals of pneumatics, including compressed air theory, distribution
and treatment, actuators, control valves system sizing and basic circuit
design, to electro-pneumatic technology, including components, circuit
design and PLC control. According to SMC's training manager, John
Dumbleton, all age groups are represented on his courses, from modern
apprentices to what he describes as 'mature' candidates wanting to
re-skill at a later stage in their careers. Mechatronics and PLCs are
proving particularly popular areas, reflecting the pace of industrial
change and the increasing demands of vocational qualifications.

For more information on the companies mentioned, see below.

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