Market needs and specialized education
Marginalizing of vocational education over the last years forced numerous employers to assume a teacher’s role and to engage in employee’s vocational training. Education and the so-far career of candidates for work seldom meet the minimal requirements posed by the companies and their quality systems.
Installation of ventilation system is considered to be one of the easiest tasks among the mechanical and plumbing works, which does not mean, that it requires no vocational training. Claiming that virtually anybody can tighten four screws and that air is both in the ducts and outside, does not exhaust the complex requirements for fitters. The quality of transferred air is the effect of selection of appliances and installation of ventilation system. Well installed system ensures appropriate air parameters, its purity, as well as noise suppression, tightness, capacity and efficiency. Many of those parameters are of fundamental importance at the stage of acceptance, and in particular, in ventilation systems for industrial technological processes. The latest requirements defined for public buildings in respect of tightness and acoustics set particularly high standards. Fitter’s errors often disqualify installed system in terms of its quality. Corrections require time and money, and sometimes they prove impossible to perform.
Prestige of the company
In today’s market realities it is the price that plays key role in business. In calculation model the final effect is achieved either by higher prices, or by cost reduction. The first element is relatively difficult to achieve in the world of “the global Internet search engine”. The only thing left to do, is to deal with the other side of the coin – namely, with the costs. Efficiency is the basic parameter for the service sector, that may become the foundation of success. A well trained fitter is the basis for such actions.
What is of equal importance, apart from the price, is the way the customer perceives the company. The employees engaged in installation are the every-day good mark of the company and this influences its final assessment. For this reason, there is no other way than to prepare one’s employee independently to those, seemingly easy tasks. At the same time, such an employee can be familiarized with work culture and attitudes, supported and preferred by the company.
It is so important for KMW engineering, since we have been working with the largest companies in this sector for several decades. Already at the beginning of our activity, KMW constructed ventilation for the center of Warsaw, and namely, we installed ventilation in the Hotel Marriott, Holiday Inn and in many other representative facilities of the capital city. Our present direction are the Benelux countries and France. And “in the meantime” the nuclear power plant Olkiluoto 3, Reichstag and many other construction sites.
The situation of a new person employed in the company is rather difficult. Radical change of surroundings and persons (s)he works with are sufficiently stressful factors for many people and they influence poor effects during the first days of work. What is more, there appears awareness of one’s own low usefulness in connection with lack of knowledge and procedures in force in the new workplace. These factors cannot be prevented, however, we will try to provide knowledge on ventilation during the course for each employed fitter, which we have organized for more than one year.
KMW Engineering: procedures and instructions
KMW Engineering offers experience and knowledge gained in the course of more than 33 years of operation in the European markets. All of it has been formalized in numerous instructions and procedures.
It took years to create them and at present they form the compendium of basic knowledge on ventilation. They are not perfect, of course. However, the corrections and supplementations introduced from time to time allow us for continuous improvement of this materials.
Knowledge from the books is one thing; what is of equal importance, it the way it is transmitted. Trainings are organized in our production plant in Solec Kujawski, where we prepared facilities allowing for practical training of the cases presented in the instructions. Training classes are held by long-serving employees with professional experience from numerous construction sites all over Europe.
KMW Engineering Lab
What becomes a lecture hall is the period of training in KMW Lab, equipped with measurement facilities by means of which it is possible to present the impact of wrong installation on the final effect (or lack of it).
Trainings are held in 5-day cycles, at least twice in each quarter. This forms the absolute minimum required for getting familiar with the issues of ventilation and allows us to assess the potential of applicant employees. These are the trainings with remuneration for pretenders, along with accommodation provided for persons who do not live nearby.
It is true that before enlisting in the Training of the Fitter’s Academy, the sent-in CVs of candidates are analyzed for the purposes of initial selection.
Occupational health and safety – the basis for all actions. In is our requirement for every employee to be admitted to the work position, that (s)he is trained in the scope of procedures governing in KMW Engineering. This training is also connected with medical examination and permission to work at a height.
On their first day of training, the participants receive a set of 8 questions. By answering them, the participant determines his or her starting point. Unfortunately, often it is very far from the target we set. Despite initial selection, test results are frequently astounding. Ignorance also seems to be limitless.
The next step is getting familiar with the basis of our documentation. Step by step, we present our workshop, dispatch and installation documentation.
Installation, that is getting familiar with the basic techniques and principles of installation for the respective elements of ventilation, along with leak testing on the fragment of personally installed ventilation system. This procedure shows clearly, where leaks may appear and to which elements attention should be paid during installation. Certain information on insulation rules is also delivered at this point.
It is dedicated to documentation, that is reading drawings, markings, building documentation, etc. It is a fairly difficult period, since for many people experiences with drawing ended with a daub made e.g. on the wall at the age of five. What is also discussed is the issue of measurement of performed works and work reporting.
The so called “handwork” is carried out on this day, that is independent completion of an element according to one’s own design. Most frequently it is one letter from the alphabet and actuator housing. This allows us to find out, whether a given participant feels what this business is all about, whether (s)he has no problem with working with sheet metal, or is able to apply appropriate tools for a given task. A small housing becomes a large project that exceeds possibilities of many people. The instructor does not interfere with ideas, since the best lessons learned are those from one’s own mistakes.
There is also a chance that it is the instructor who will have a chance to learn a new creative solution of the problem.
It is the day when “space” is entered (where some even reach “hyperspace”), that is measuring of appropriate real element and drawing it in such a way, that it can be constructed. At present, many “experts” in the field has forgotten the rudiments of “routing” and it is the skill that has always allowed to continue installation “in the field” and to verify errors from the design to the production. Not so long ago it used to be the Bible for every decent fitter. Regrettably, this ability disappears.
Exams, that is 30 multiple-choice questions that were answered during the course. Also the method of assessment has its logic. A question that is answered correctly is graded with “1 point”, lack of answer receives “0 points”, and the wrong answer which in reality would generate costs at the construction site is graded with “- 1 point”. The fitter is allowed not to know something, but (s)he should not make mistakes. His or her wrong decisions cause evident loss of time, material, money and prestige of the company.
After the exam the instructor evaluates and describes knowledge and attitude of course participants, basing on the tests, observation during the course, behavior, predispositions, manual skills, personal culture, etc. The instructor decides independently, whether a given participant should be employed / conditionally employed / or dismissed for not trying hard enough. The final decision is made by the person in charge of installations.
Our so far experience of more than one year shows that the percentage of persons dismissed shortly after they had been employed, has fallen substantially. Of course, this is a mere drop in the bucket in relation to needs and only after a few months of work at the construction site appropriate “unconditioned responses” can be trained in a novice. However, there is already a certain basis and now it is only up to him/her, if and how (s)he takes advantage of it.
More than 30 years in this line of trade is an obligation for us to care for reputation of KMW ventilation fitter, both home and abroad. Initial verification before commencement of work is beneficial both to a future fitter and to the company, and the negative results allow to avoid disappointment in the future.