The tale of training and upskilling has long been told. Imagine needing this training and having the solution arrive on your doorstep. Imagine the gift comes wrapped in black and turquoise with 18 wheels. The Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) mobile training unit is just that and the only imagination needed is for the future of possibilities that it offers.

At the 9th annual North Coast Fastener Association (NCFA) Fastener Social on May 18, 2017, fastener professionals had the opportunity to take a look inside of the mobile unit. We spoke to a few of them on their way out. 

“I found it to be interesting,” said Jim Kasper of Plan-E-Tech Industries Inc, a tool & die shop in Medina County, Ohio. Kasper felt that one of the biggest benefits of a training unit like this is getting the workforce to feel more comfortable with the machines. Being able to program the CNC machines is something he felt to be necessary. “Actually just operating one and not being afraid of how to manipulate the numbers and the buttons,” he said is beneficial. 

Robert (Bob) Baer, President of the Mid-West Fastener Association and President at Abbott-Interfast Corporation, thought the unit was something special. “First of all it’s innovative,” said Baer, “I don’t think that I’ve ever seen one of these before in my life. An 18 wheeler pulls up to your building and does training right at your company, it’s very cool.”

George Hunt of Brighton Best International thought the unit was very informative. “It’s something that we could use in our industry to try and get more young people into our marketplace,” said George. 

Shawn Evans of Buckeye Fasteners thought it was an eye opening experience. “It broadened my horizons with how much Tri-C has to offer new students working in the industry,” said Shawn.

Krista Osborne, also of Brighton Best International, agreed. She enjoyed the virtual welding machine inside. Among the fastener professionals who toured the unit, that training tool seemed to be the most popular takeaway. 

“I’ve never welded before. There’s a live, virtual welder in there,” Shawn Evans said with excitement. “It benefits using a virtual welder rather than an actual welder,” Carl Lipski of Buckeye Fasteners stated, who felt it was nice to be able to practice with our switching out the plates or rods. Lipski sees great opportunities for companies to offer classes involving the virtual welder that Tri-C has available. Virtual training offers opportunities to correct mistakes quickly. “If you make a mistake and start from scratch,” Lipski said, “You can literally just press a button and go right back and perfect your art.”

Bob Baer entered into the unit with a group. One of the Tri-C instructors held a small welding competition between the individuals in his group. He saw the virtual welder as a beneficial training tool. Instead of wasting material in the shop, the machine can save the waste. 

Baer compared the virtual training tools to video games, which is something the younger generation knows a lot about. “[Millennials are] prone to being able to do things over and over virtually until they’re good at it so I think that it fits right in with the current times,” Baer said.

While larger companies may have training programs and space, Baer noted that smaller companies will be able to benefit from training coming to them. However, he did see a great deal of benefit for larger manufacturers as well. If a company does not have a certain piece of equipment, Tri-C has about 30 machines that can be switched on and off the trailer for whatever training a company needs. “So if you’re thinking about going into something new and you buy a brand new machine,” Baer explained, “They can load the truck and bring that kind of machine to your doorstep for training.”

Fastener Professionals Reflect on Mobile Training

Shawn Evans thought he would like to see spot welding and arc welding training offered in the unit because it’s one of the biggest situations he runs into on a day to day basis.

George Hunt sees specifications as the base building block before any other training. “They need to know how to read specs,” Hunt said, “They need to know how to understand them before they even can get to a machine.” However, Hunt thinks that understanding the nuances of the machine itself and the experience behind it is important.”It goes hand in hand like an appendage on a body,” explained Hunt, “They need to understand how to do it so they can make a quality product.”

Bob Baer thinks that inspection is another very important element in the training process. “I didn’t see anything on there for inspection” Baer noted, “But every company who manufactures must also inspect product and it seems like that would be something that would be very easy to add on.”

While Baer notes that CNC training is popular nowadays within high schools and colleges, he actually noted the need for another type of training, something even older. “What we don’t have anymore in this country, what we lost when the economy went down south and we lost a lot of our manufacturing, is some training for the older machines,” Baer expressed. “There are tons of multi-spindle machines around and there’s nobody to run them,” Baer noted.

“There is an opportunity not only for jobs, but also for training by incorporating in these older machines. While there are plenty of modern machines, some companies still have older machines that need trained operators in order for them to function and run properly. We can’t hire people. We struggle with that every day, even in our own plant,” Baer said. 


What do you think?

What kind of training could the Tri-C mobile unit offer to help the fastener industry?

What other kinds of fastener training would you like to see?

Leave a comment below!

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