Plantforce have seen a substantial intake of participants since launching the course on May 19th, with over 275 operators enrolling and 100 applicants at one time working online to achieve the certification. The feedback has been fantastic, with not only operators taking part, but a mix of engineers and site mangers all looking to better their knowledge of machine control systems.
With construction slowly returning to work, most companies will be under massive pressure
to find new ways of delivering already established services. Government guidelines on social
distancing means to work even remotely similarly to how we did just 10 weeks ago is
becoming ever more challenging. Furthermore, companies will be looking for new ways to
increase productivity and help claw back lost time. In construction, a week’s downtime can
have enormous cost implications amongst other costs. One of these new ways to assist in
cost reduction and maximising production will be GPS machine control. This technology
often features on many major projects already as it offers numerous advantages and
reduces downtime, increasing site efficiency.
One of the issues with machine control is that it is a new concept that many companies are
still learning how to integrate into their workflows. There are also the combined issues of
the operator community, who will be expected to use this cutting-edge technology but may
not necessarily be able to be fluent in every day GPS works.
Plantforce over the last three years have released a varied number of training initiatives to
better prepare plant operators for work within the major project settings which is nowbecoming more and more prevalent within the industry. One of the aforementioned
programmes has been a collaboration with Weston College, in which Plantforce/Weston
College delivers advanced machine control training for already established operators in a
bid to help prepare them for upcoming projects (such as HS2) and to align with new
Highways industry directives in making machine control mandatory.
Dale Hawkins Digital Manager.
“GPS machine control is such a complex subject. Simply sending somebody on a day’s course will not work. We need to look at it more as an operator starting his journey into amultifaceted learning programme and making sure they have the right tools at their disposal at just the right time. Another task will be translating the somewhat complex engineering terminology used into a language that is understandable industry wide. Doing this will enable the learning process to become as fast and efficient as possible for the operators”.
One stumbling block currently surrounding the training programme for example, is that
when operators attend the training centre, their backgrounds and skill levels are so varied
that training in basic operation becomes the main focus, thus not being able to fully utilise
the advanced machine control solutions we have on offer at the centre. This in turn is
doubling the course duration in order to get the right amount of knowledge across for
operators, for them to then be comfortable with using the technology on-site.
This new online-based offering is the perfect structured solution for helping the industry
return to work with a better knowledge base. It also allows the operator to learn the basics
in their own time at a pace which suits them and their needs, without the pressure a
classroom environment can sometimes cause.
The free learning covers the basic introduction into GPS machine control, how it works,
what the key components needed are, along with basic walk around videos of the
Each section structure is combined with a quiz to complete before moving on to next
Once a candidate completes the online basic introduction, they will arrive at the stage two
the more technical and hands on element. By introducing a “basics course”, Plantforce has
created a process that ensures the candidates attending stage 2 are of an equal
knowledgeable understanding. This allows Plantforce to reduce the course duration, saving
time and money. This also better utilises the learning equipment on offer, streamlining the
whole process from start to finish.
The second section of the course is also free but hosted at Weston College. This stage
contains a simulation of the machine control interfaces, along with a 4hrs practical session
on the relevant machine, practicing what they have already learned. This culminates in a
test with a pass or fail at the end.
We feel once completed, the candidate will be competent in a role where they could use
the machine control systems and start their journey into this fantastic technology.
For candidates who are still hungry to learn more, they are then able to apply for the
advanced training which is charged at £350 per person. This involves the more complex side
of machine control.