As the level of technical innovation in the metalcutting sector increases, so too does the need to train future engineers in the latest methods. For subcontract machining specialist Metaltech Precision Ltd in England, the introduction of the Sandvik Coromant E-Learning program has added a new dimension to its apprenticeships as it looks to meet ever more strenuous demands on quality, productivity and delivery.
Workshop manager Steve Larcombe has been at Metaltech Precision Ltd for 18 years. Responsible for overseeing the apprenticeship programme, he sees benefits for both the students and the company.
“The colleges don’t cover the tooling side in depth,” Larcombe says. “They can’t afford the machinery or tooling we can here, and they don’t cover the new innovations. In the past four or five years we have seen new innovations, new grades, chip breakers and different thought processes on how to machine using new programming techniques, so this is a way of getting that into our training.”
Before the apprentices took the E-Learning program, Larcombe completed it himself. The next step will be for team leaders and management to do the program as well.
“I found it good to refresh my memory, and I was seeing things in it that I’d either forgotten or not covered for a while,” Larcombe explains. “The program is not too time-consuming or too difficult to understand. The content is good and it fits with what I want to do, rather than having two or three apprentices in a room trying to train them on something.”
The students tend to undertake the program early in their apprenticeship. They usually need around 20 hours to complete it, broken up into sessions of four to five hours. At the end of each section is a test, and upon completion they are awarded a certificate.
“It is very informative and there is lots I didn’t know, especially about inserts,” says Geoff Peacock, a recent student. “I find having the videos is really useful, because it helps give me a better picture of what I am working with. It’s early days for me, but if I’ve got more information to help the company make better products with greater efficiency, then it is a helpful tool for me.”
For those who have completed the program, the opportunity to recap areas of knowledge that need attention is also a plus.
“I like the recaps and the mini tests,” says apprentice Richard Padfield. “The hardest part for me was taking in so much knowledge. Tool cutting has changed and accelerated so fast over the past five years. I could take it home and recap over the course after I’d finished it, learn how to do something properly and then do the final test.”
On a practical level, students find that they can directly apply what they have learned online to their tasks in the workshop.
Metalcutting Technology – E-learning program
Since its introduction, the E-Learning program, which is based on the Sandvik Coromant 360-page Metalcutting Technology training handbook, has been a huge success.
“The response has been very, very good,” says Sandvik Coromant Academy EMEA Manager Nils Hedar. “We already have more than 12,000 users, and we soon saw a demand to have it translated into more languages. We expect this number to increase a lot. As well as companies, several well-known universities are using it for their metalcutting training.”
Hedar can see benefits in the short and long term both for clients and for Sandvik Coromant.
“It is important for us in terms of building relationships and helping people get more acquainted with Sandvik Coromant tooling and ways of using them,” he says. “For us, students are future customers and employees.”
“Students at a well-known research center in the UK have been putting positive pressure on Sandvik Coromant to do a level 2 E-Learning program,” Hedar says. “Also, the teachers appreciate the eMCT as they continually try to find new ways of improving the learning.
“Our aim is to provide a better understanding of metalcutting,” Hedar continues. “It is an easily accessible form of training and one that is interesting and fun. Ultimately, better competence leads to higher productivity. By the introduction of Badges & Awards every user can also very easily follow their training progress, and follow their Achievements on their personal achievement page.”
The E-learning program is available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish.
How it works
The program is broken it into short training courses including animations, voice over, video clips and texts. The focus is to understand terms and definitions and how to apply tools for turning, milling, boring and tool holding. Participants also get an understanding of the basics of production economics and how to improve productivity and profitability.
Standard or tailored
The e-learning is divided into nine chapters and 75 short courses. It covers theory and application within the following areas:
- Machinability (work piece materials and cutting tool materials).
- Parting & Grooving.
- Other information (machining economy and maintenance).
Users can pick and choose what chapters to study. For those who finish the course in its entirety, Sandvik Coromant offers a certification test. A total of two to three days are needed to finish the complete training.