Major expansion of UK test and training facilities at E + H

P1020020aEndress+Hauser in Manchester, UK, was established 45 years ago as the first overseas sales centre for the Swiss parent company, founded by George Endress 60 years ago last February. In fact the actual date on the UK company records was 11 November 1968 – so the inauguration and opening of the new apprentice training and engineering centre on 8 November 2013 by his son Hans-Peter Endress, now chairman of the UK operation, was singularly appropriate, as a “wonderful birthday present” of which George would have approved.

 

The redevelopment and total internal refitting of this building, to help E+H serve their customers better, as well as to invest in the training of the young people needed to work in E+H, and for the customers’ engineers who use E+H products, has cost around GBP650k. Hans-Peter saw this investment as turning their stated company strategy into reality: currently the E+H group has 544 apprentices, interns and graduates in training, around 5% of the workforce.

Taking action on training

David Newell, md of the UK operation, explained that the training centre, and the examples of the equipment and demo rigs operating there, had been designed and built by E+H engineers, in particular using the efforts of four current apprentices. The building originally housed the sales offices, but was vacated when the modern sales and engineering offices were built alongside on the same site. This new sales office is the fourth largest E+H sales centre in Europe, and sixth largest in the world: currently 14 of the staff members there were recruited into the E+H apprentice or graduate training programme.

Newell suggested that it was only because E+H was privately owned that they were able to follow the desires and beliefs of the shareholder family and invest consistently in training for staff. Currently he sees a real shortage of engineering skills and education in young people emerging from schools and colleges, and a low take-up of engineering courses at Universities. In taking their own action to remedy this, E+H are working along the same lines as many of their customers – such as HJ Heinz, working with the University Technical Centre at Wigan (and using a food processing plant in the UTC, instrumented by E+H, to produce soup, which is then distributed to the needy in the area); Arla Foods sponsoring the Eden project at Reaseheath College, Nantwich, covering food technology and engineering; and Nestlé working with Sheffield Hallam University on a specially configured degree course. This year E+H employed two new school leavers on a 4 year apprenticeship, who will spend their first year studying at SETA, the Stockport Engineering Training Association.

Hands-on demonstrations

A tour of the training facilities showed that E+H are indeed achieving what they aspire to be – a multi-specialist in the supply of process automation systems. The application examples used in the training rigs cover typical projects where their equipment is used, and are even typical of some of the custom modules they supply at times – typically to R&D laboratories for process development. Examples showed batch control of fluid delivery, similar to bottling or pharmaceutical blending, PID control applied to a pressure reservoir, to show how to control response times, and also PID control of a tank level with a pump and discharge control valve. The air flow rig demonstrated many different types of flowmeter, enabling the effects and limitations of each technology to be observed, alongside the alternatives.

C5834_DSC0755.JPG

A separate area, away from the pumps and liquids, represented an on-site instrument repair bay, where trainees on courses can disassemble the sensors, test their operation as they might on their own plant, wire them up and even check the outputs: calibration work is also possible. The available systems covered not only 4-20mA interfacing, but also Profibus and other bus connections where appropriate. Instruments here can also be connected to a simulated control room across the corridor, using equipment and interfacing supplied by Rockwell Automation and Pepperl+Fuchs, two of the E+H alliance partners, who have helped with the development of the centre. From this console further groupings of instruments sited on stanchions around the demo floor are accessed using the different interfacing technologies available, demonstrating Ethernet and WirelessHART for example. Similar hands-on experience is available in the separate lecture room, where each seat is equipped with a desk PC. Here networking and interconnectivity rules, so that all the students can interact with the main classroom display: a true “Collaboration station” in Honeywell terminology! This station can also link to and control any of the working demonstration rigs, to discuss and review the practical training and what they had learnt. Separately the course leader also has control of a local camera which can then show close-up views of the wiring or settings being adjusted on a sensor under investigation, on the same classroom screen.

One of the first companies to use the training centre has been Arla Foods, who have recently invested in a major new dairy in Aylesbury, UK. Endress+Hauser won the packages for the supply of field instrumentation, which included asset management and maintenance contracts, including the training of Arla engineers on the equipment to be fitted on site. The first training has been given using the new centre, concentrating on the specific items they will need to work with.

Engineering facilities

Half the lower floor of the training centre is divided into separate calibration laboratories for temperature, pressure, liquid flow and analytical products such as pH. The water flow rig is relatively small compared to the facilities available at the flowmeter production centres, but can still calibrate meters up to DN100 (4”) to an accuracy of 0.05%. In the other half, an assembly area is used for producing custom made control cabinets with field wiring terminals, some of which are set up for Factory Acceptance Testing before shipment.

DSC03746

Leaving the training centre – which was in fact officially opened on 8 November by the E+H management, helped by Michael Portillo, an ex-minister in the last Conservative Government in the UK, and others, trainees will hopefully register the following thought presented there, engraved into the wall. This stresses the involvement of E+H and process instrumentation in general in everyday consumer products, as well as in the oil and gas industry, as evidenced by the many examples visible. George Endress, who started his working life as a young engineer at Mather & Platt in Manchester, not far from the new centre, would have been pleased.

“Wherever you are, you’ll find something made by us. Drink a glass of water, eat a sandwich, take a pain reliever or refuel your car – process automation is always involved”.

Footnote: Endress+Hauser has also just opened a new production facility in Brazil, 100km north of Sao Paulo. The investment there has totalled Euro8m ($11m), for the production of flow, level and pressure instruments in the 4300sqm factory. Since the opening a Brazil sales centre in 2003, sales in the area have grown on average at 30% per annum. Other regional production centres are situated in the USA, China and India.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: