This is not only a domestic problem but also an international one. I experienced this in South Africa where we started The Heat Treatment Specialist Division of the South African Institute of Foundrymen. It may seem strange to run with the Foundrymen. They were the vehicle that allowed us (heat treaters) to have a forum, a voice and a magazine.
The U.K. has a similar problem. There was a wonderful organization called the Wolfson Heat Treatment Center that worked very closely with The Contract Heat Treaters Association to provide education to the associate on the shop floor.
The target market is, of course (as one would think), the associate operating the furnace who is responsible for the integrity of the work they are processing. But it reaches much further than that. What of the sales person? Do they receive external training in order not to oversell the service being provided by the heat-treatment company? What of the managers, supervisors and even owners?
Training is ongoing and not just one-time only. The payback is tremendous:
- A more satisfied and responsible heat-treatment associate
- An associate who sees their company investing in them for the future
- A more confident management due to the investment in associate training
- A more satisfied client, who gains confidence in the heat-treatment company’s ability to professionally and technically service their metallurgical requirements
- Other associate satisfaction and, more importantly, motivation for them to strive for better things
The industry of heat treatment, either here in the U.S., U.K. or South Africa, has been an exciting one for this writer, who has received so much in terms of career and job satisfaction. This can be achieved by anyone who wants to grab hold of what is being offered.
But it is essential that training be undertaken. What type of training? Nothing beats hands-on training. That can only be achieved at the company. There is no institution that can offer periodic practical hands-on training or practicing with tool-steel heat treatment – on a furnace with a generator, an integral-quench furnace, a vacuum furnace or a simple metallurgical evaluation laboratory.
This writer is certain that there are companies who have excess or redundant equipment that could be placed at the disposal of a training institute in order to run at least a week of real, practical hands-on heat treatment and evaluation. No organization currently offers a service to come and play (so to speak) with heat treatment. This idea is achievable and would serve our industry well.
Training is the lifeblood of our industry whether online, at a center or training by association on site.