Expanded training opportunities to meet changing needs

Expanded training opportunities to meet changing needs

Since 1990, CelSian Glass & Solar (formerly the TNO Glass Group) and Nationaal Comité Nederlandse Glasindustrie (NCNG) have staged the International Glass Technology Course. Here, Oscar Verheijen discusses the ever-growing importance of training and CelSian’s increased focus on providing a broader range of options.

GW: As a leading supplier of products and services aimed at delivering value in the areas of furnace support, process optimisation and knowledge transfer, how does CelSian prioritise training in its overall offerings to the glass manufacturing chain?
Training is a very important segment of CelSian and we are investing an increasing amount to extend our capabilities. There will be future growth in training in many different ways and we are expanding our internal and external pool of trainers because of training diversification in terms of content, duration and format.

In addition to collaborating with technicians, technologists and engineers, a changing trend is discussions with human resources personnel about training needs for their company’s employees. The way to train people is changing. HR departments are looking for opportunities to retain and improve their workforces and they recognise training as an important tool. There is a real opportunity to develop new concepts that sit alongside their philosophies.

GW: Launched at glasstec 2018 last October and based on CelSian’s EBM software, what role will the company’s simulation technology play in future training?
We can now offer to simulate settings and emergencies for any type of furnace. With the high risks associated with trials in a furnace, our simulator provides no danger of rejects or low yield and can project exactly what will happen and how the process will work in reality. The simulator can also provide great knowledge. For example, if you increase pull rate, how much more fuel do you have to apply to your furnace? This can be calculated along with many other factors that are not possible in practice. Process control and ever advancing control systems are a positive because they assist reproducible production… but if the control systems take over the expertise, then it might lead to decreasing knowhow.

Some customers are currently testing the simulator as a standalone training tool for the industry, where engineers can experiment accordingly and use the simulator as a decision support tool for changing operational settings.

The ideal situation is that every individual furnace has its own simulator to explore solutions and offer scenario analysis to train the operator. Having invested last year in the simulator and launched the first version at glasstec, we are now in discussion with a series of customers and their feedback will dictate how the technology develops to its full potential. It’s a real growth area for the future.

GW: What position does the CelSian – NCNG International Glass Technology Course hold in the industry’s training agenda?
For nearly 20 years, we have staged the five day International Glass Technology Course in Eindhoven, the Netherlands to provide a solid, theoretical background to meet the challenges of furnace operation and glass production.

Including replicas of the course staged in Toledo in the USA for the last 10 years to cater mainly for the North and South American regions and in the UK, in co-operation with combustion and energy expert Neil Simpson, almost 2000 glass professionals have now benefitted from receiving a broad overview of the melting process for all furnace types covering float, container and fibre glass and all different sectors together.

The International Glass Technology Course regularly attracts experienced glass professionals looking to better understand the things they see happening and behaving in practice. In addition, young people and new entrants to the glass industry are also very well suited.

Attracting young people to the glass industry is a challenge and training them properly can incentivise them to stay in the industry. It’s no longer about eight hour lectures… with regularly updated slides and manuals to keep the course fresh and up-to-date, our interactive training now includes case studies and one-to-one group sessions, as well as e-learning movies throughout the course. In advance, attendees have access to e-learning modules to guide them through the different topics of glass melting to ensure everyone enters the course with the same basic knowhow.

GW: Is the course limited to glass manufacturers?
In addition to glass producers, an increasing number of suppliers are joining our courses, including sensor suppliers, automation companies, gas suppliers, material suppliers etc. For example, a provider of sensors wants to understand more about the benefit of their technology to glass; in terms of quality, energy reduction and lower emissions etc, they can offer better solutions to their customers if they fully understand the process and what applications can be used.

GW: Is there a follow-up curriculum to the course?
As well as a standard follow-up survey, upon request we can carry out post-course training to measure how the knowhow has increased since the pre-course e-learning movies.

All attendees also receive a certificate and there has been evidence of this assisting the progression of careers when people have been looking for new opportunities within the industry.

GW: Does the course attract multiple attendees from the same companies and can the training agenda be tailored for individual company needs?
With the five day International Training Courses in the Netherlands, America and UK being limited to 25 attendees to maintain productive interaction, companies often send multiple employees for training. But if that number approaches ten from the same company, it could be that CelSian recommend that an in-house course for that company would be of most benefit so that even greater numbers can join.

The International Glass Technology Course is very successful because it has a fixed agenda and caters for a broad audience… but more and more, we receive requests from individual companies looking at dedicated training covering their specific processes. Our company-dedicated training courses started about 10 years ago and have been successfully staged in Europe, Japan, the Middle East and USA. With many such courses staged in 2018, in-company training is attracting more interest than ever because we can tailor the content for the individual companies with specific material not covered elsewhere. And if necessary, our trainers can be joined by external experts in those fields or to support the training because of specific local language needs. The absence of confidentiality issues can also enable our trainers to be more in-depth in an open environment.

After discussing the needs of the company, CelSian can organise a company-dedicated, tailor-made course over one or multiple days over a longer period of time. Although mainly connected to melting, there are no limits to the glass technology-related topics we can cover.

GW: What was the motivation to launch the series of two day expert training sessions in 2019?
We can now provide expert courses over two days to delve further into specific topics that may be rather too complex to cover in detail in our other courses.

For example, on 13-14 March in Manchester, UK, we will stage an expert training session dedicated to understanding the link between redox, fining and glass quality. Such a subject is of key importance for those that work on a daily basis on controlling and optimising glass quality, which is highly influenced by redox state (disturbances).

A further course fully dedicated to ‘advanced combustion and emissions’ will be held on 15-16 May in Eindhoven for batch and furnace managers and glass technologists.

The first expert training course was successfully staged over two days in the UK last January as a lean version of the five day International Glass Technology Course. Dedicating five days can sometimes be a challenge for companies, so a shorter course with more basic information worked well for such attendees as environmental managers and technical sales people, for example.

With the forthcoming courses already attracting great interest, more expert courses will be scheduled for later in 2019 and next year and we have ambitions for events in the USA and Asia, where we can align our programme to the regions. Industry needs will dictate the topics.

A regular course is also staged for the Dutch glass industry with a different format. A 10 day course takes place across approximately five months, with each day hosted by a different glass plant. Attendees receive a half day of theory training, followed by practical experience in the factory, so they have the great benefit of visiting all the plants and production facilities in Holland.

About the Author: 

Oscar Verheijen is Senior Consultant at CelSian

Further Information: 

CelSian Glass & Solar BV, Eindhoven, the Netherlands

tel: +31 40 249 0100

email: oscar.verheijen@celsian.nl

web: www.celsian.nl