Waratah says tech train­ing cru­cial

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

THE MOVE TO A BROAD-BASED, NA­TION­WIDE PRO­GRAMME FOR train­ing peo­ple to op­er­ate com­plex ma­chines in the for­est can’t come soon enough for Waratah.

The har­vest­ing and pro­cess­ing head man­u­fac­turer says the in­crease in mech­a­ni­sa­tion across the in­dus­try is putting pres­sure on the abil­ity of equip­ment sup­pli­ers like it­self to pro­vide train­ing es­sen­tials. And it’s only go­ing to get worse, the com­pany says.

“Com­pared to oth­ers in this space, we are quite well re­sourced and we have the sup­port of a large in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion, but the de­mands for train­ing are stretch­ing us to the limit,” says Ja­son Huitema, Na­tional Cus­tomer Sup­port Spe­cial­ist for Waratah Forestry Ser­vices.

“With the in­crease in mech­a­ni­sa­tion the cur­rent train­ing es­sen­tials are ex­ceed­ing what we can pro­vide,” he says. “This is only go­ing to be­come more of a prob­lem with fur­ther in­creases in mech­a­nised felling and pro­cess­ing with our ex­ist­ing work force not to men­tion try­ing to at­tract new peo­ple to our in­dus­try.

“I cer­tainly think it’s a good time and op­por­tu­nity to ta­ble the cur­rent mech­a­nised train­ing needs/gaps. We (Waratah) seem to be in a very un­usual sit­u­a­tion at the mo­ment re­gard­ing mech­a­nised har­vester train­ing and fill­ing this need.

“To­day’s har­vester op­er­a­tor is re­quired to be pro­fi­cient with Win­dows op­er­at­ing sys­tems, be able to edit cut plans, turn lengths on and off, change dol­lar val­ues in the price ma­trix sec­tion, per­form daily/weekly length and di­am­e­ter accuracy checks to en­sure har­vester is meet­ing monthly au­dit re­quire­ments set by the for­est owner, save and send pro­duc­tion data daily/weekly via email while meet­ing pro­duc­tion tar­gets. All that, as well as get­ting to grips with the op­er­a­tion of the head it­self.

“Most of our har­vester de­liv­er­ies to­day are full op­ti­mised and use dig­i­tal cal­lipers, data trans­fer, colour mark­ing paint sys­tem – due to th­ese high end au­to­ma­tion re­quire­ments we will quite of­ten have an ‘Ap­pli­ca­tion Spe­cial­ist’ on site for new de­liv­er­ies for up to a week to help op­er­a­tors move to this next level.

“We need to move away from th­ese event-based on-site train­ing needs and more to struc­tured pre­req­ui­site-type class­room train­ing be­fore the op­er­a­tor gets to the for­est floor. That’s why we think the train­ing crew pro­posal now be­ing dis­cussed within the in­dus­try needs wide­spread sup­port. It’s in ev­ery­one’s best in­ter­ests.”

Mr Huitema says the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion has be­come frus­trat­ing to ev­ery­one in­volved and he be­lieves we are now at the point where con­trac­tors, for­est own­ers and sup­pli­ers have had enough and “need some form of struc­tured train­ing in a non-pro­duc­tion en­vi­ron­ment”.

There are har­vest­ing sim­u­la­tors now avail­able in both the North and South Is­lands where po­ten­tial har­vester op­er­a­tors can prac­tice and be­come con­fi­dent with the tech­nol­ogy.

“We are com­mit­ted to in­dus­try train­ing and will con­tinue to pro­vide on­go­ing sup­port to all train­ing providers through the use of train­ing sim­u­la­tors and all high-end au­to­ma­tion, but it has now reached the point where it has be­come an is­sue that re­quires a pan-in­dus­try so­lu­tion,” adds Mr Huitema.


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