VOL. 9 May ISSUE YEAR 2008

Good Vibrations

in Vol. 9 - May Issue - Year 2008
Desperately Seeking Qualified Surface Finishing People?

It takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Irrespective of whether it is technicians or sales people required, today it is difficult to find qualified people for the surface finishing world. Vibratory finishing as well as shot blasting technologies are a field of technical knowledge that has not been supported and developed enough in schools and sciences during the last decades. That means that the companies themselves have to find, train and qualify their employees to make them useful for the daily business.
That is amazing, because all around the world and in nearly every metal production branch surface finishing solutions are essential parts of the value added chain.
What has happened? Why doesn’t there exist a school for mass finishing and shot blasting technologies somewhere in the world? That would improve the situation for many companies when they look for qualified employees. Some weeks ago I made a visit to the plating department of a well known German automotive company. The head engineer of the department was desperately seeking a qualified technician for the integrated mass finishing plant. He complained about the situation.  „If we could find qualified people who don’t have to be trained over months or years, we would be able to achieve a higher level of quality and process stability”.  There is a continuous risk if after a change of employees nobody possesses the required experience or is able to control the process.
Besides the lack of availability of qualified people, the absence of continuing technical education of existing employees may lead to permanent problems. Most of the offered advanced training programs are superficial, sometimes very specialized or seem to be disguised marketing shows.
These facts allegorize an increasing burden and incalculable risks for the industry.
Automated production stages as well as manual process cycles need a certain dimension of expert knowledge. Only the employee who is able to understand and reconstruct the workflow will be qualified enough to fulfil the required tasks of process control and process improvement.  
The almost non existent state-approved training specialized in mass finishing or shot blasting technologies also means a scarcity of new blood.
The reality: Only after long term active practical working period with mass finishing operations do employees possess an acceptable level of knowledge to take over responsibility.
This situation has to be changed as soon as possible. We need to think about the first step to integrate the most important mass finishing technologies into the existing state approved metal working professions. 
In addition to that, industry and science should support qualified and certified theoretical / practical training courses and programs. As a result the market should be able to offer qualified employees for mass finishing applications after an acceptable time. These specialists will be able to take over responsibility for mass finishing operations including machine, process, automation and environment. 
That will be the only way to build up well-founded and specialized knowledge in the field of these important future technologies.
The quality of products, the company image and finally the employee motivation will benefit from changing the traditional way.
Many companies do not use the real potential of their mass finishing installations due to missing expert knowledge.
The final goal should be to create a state approved continuing education especially for the broad field of mass finishing technologies. More young people should be motivated by that to get involved with the surface finishing world with the good feeling to work on a qualified and seminal profession.

Good Vibrations
by Dirk Gather,
Contributing Editor MFN
and Plant Manager of
Tel. +49.3301.5232.0 
Fax +49.3301.5232.29