Contron is an independent control system and software design company that undertakes bespoke integrated and turnkey projects for a variety of companies including multinationals and market leaders. Although the company does not normally get involved with safety-related electrical hardware design, it does write software for machine control. Contron's Managing Director, Tim Nixon, therefore felt that it was necessary to have a thorough understanding of what his clients were supplying in order that an informed assessment could be made of each control system's fitness for purpose.
Looking around for a suitable training course, Tim Nixon identified the City & Guilds 'Practical application of machinery safety legislation and standards' training course (City & Guilds reference number 1623), which is available through Pilz Automation Technology. The syllabus covered the subjects of interest, and it was felt that the City & Guilds certification would be a benefit in that it was a nationally recognised qualification that would be respected by Contron's clients.
The modular four-day training course is aimed at people who have responsibility for new or existing machinery, including designers, manufacturers, maintenance engineers and engineering/project managers. Attendees gain a greater understanding of the requirements of machinery safety legislation and standards through classroom sessions, practical exercises and examinations. Successful candidates are awarded a City & Guilds Machinery Safety Certificate, enabling them to demonstrate a level of competency in machinery safety.
Having gained his City & Guilds qualification, Tim Nixon comments: "This course really helped me to understand how to apply safety-related requirements to all aspects of machine design and integration, including those areas that are normally outside of our scope of supply but essential to the integrity of the finished product. Also, the general information about subjects such as the Health and Safety at Work Act made me realise how other people can influence the areas in which we work. Contron often has staff working on clients' sites, and this course gave me a far better understanding of responsibilities and duties in such situations."
He continues: "My role and responsibilities as a company Director may have resulted in me taking a slightly different view of the course material, but I found it really enlightening - a chance to get a view of the bigger picture. Since going on the course I have been much more aware of health and safety issues, and it has enabled me to sharpen-up our business in a way that I had not anticipated."
The course also helped Tim Nixon in developing his ideas for the future direction of the company: "For some time we have been considering getting more involved in functional safety control of machinery and what I learnt on the course has helped me to firm-up those plans."
In terms of the course structure, Tim Nixon found that the mixture of classroom and practical sessions worked well: "The balance between theory and practice was perfect. Moreover, a very interactive style was used throughout, which certainly held everyone's interest."
Tim Nixon concludes: "It is not always easy for a Managing Director to justify four days out of the office, but I got far more out of this course than I was anticipating; it has had a highly beneficial impact on Contron's business."