VFE, UK’s leading vacuum furnace, autoclave and service support provider, is investing in engineering training now and for the future with a new state-of-the art training facility – believed to be the first of its type for the heat treatment equipment industry. The VFE Training Academy at the company’s head office in Halesowen demonstrates VFE’s ongoing intention to promote excellence within its own business and to offer a comprehensive range of industry-accredited training for the wider industry.
The new Training Academy will support the internal training and development of VFE engineers, apprentices and staff, and will also run courses for customers. The purpose-designed facility boasts a full suite of working equipment to enable real-life training scenarios for engineers. Training modules covering all areas of vacuum engineering have been developed to provide essential training to engineers and to ensure that the company’s extensive technical knowledge and expertise are documented for the future.
Customer training offered by VFE will be aimed at in-house engineering teams responsible for maintaining heat treatment industry equipment such as furnaces, pumps and autoclaves. Courses will focus on how to improve machine utilisation and maximise productivity: bespoke training packages will also be available. Complementing VFE’s ServiceCare plans, the courses will help customers get the most from their machines between routine service visits.
VFE training includes courses that are specifically designed to give an introductory knowledge into vacuum furnaces and autoclaves. Developed to meet the needs of operators, maintenance engineers and apprentices. These courses cover functionality, safety, applications and are fully compliant with the requirements of Nadcap, AMS2750 E, RPS 953 and ISO 9001:2008. Training options range from one-day introduction modules to an advanced three-day package incorporating helium leak detection. Courses include classroom training, demonstrations and practical exercises, together with comprehensive course materials. In addition, VFE is also able to offer specialist training in subjects such as:
- Dynamic helium leak detection
- Hot-zone assembly and construction
- Mechanical pump servicing
- Nadcap and temperature uniformity applicable to vacuum furnaces
- Vacuum furnace control and operation
- Water cooling system installations and understanding
- Gas cooling and partial pressure system understanding
- Routine maintenance checks to ensure reliability
Depending on their role, VFE employees will have access to product and non-product related training at the Academy as part of a personal development programme, enabling them to achieve their full potential as part of a multi-skilled workforce. Some courses will have external accreditation, while others will be conducted by VFE’s own highly qualified personnel. In order to develop the engineering resources needed now and in the future the company has also invested in a structured Engineering Apprenticeship Programme, which currently has nine apprentices. Each apprenticeship is geared towards the chosen engineering career path after the first year. At the present time the scheme is supporting two Master’s degrees and four MBA qualifications.
VFE’s investment in training is a proactive response to a shortage of skilled furnace engineers in the UK labour pool due to the niche vacuum engineering market. This can make recruitment of required resource challenging at the right skill level, as Nathan Richards, Training Academy Manager, explains, “Our new Training Academy will help create a talent pipeline of highly skilled engineers with the vacuum knowledge and expertise that our business, and the wider industry, needs,” he says. “We are especially proud of our apprenticeship scheme, which is building skills for the future by giving budding engineers the opportunity to learn alongside VFE’s expert staff, whilst studying for a recognised engineering qualification.”
VFE has a world-wide portfolio of high profile customers in all sectors of manufacturing industry, including aerospace, land-based power generation, automotive, medical, general engineering and sub-contract heat treatment industries. The company operates a large network of multi-skilled engineers with experience in problem solving and innovative, engineered solutions for all makes of vacuum furnaces.
Summing up, Nathan Richards, Training Academy Manager, says: “VFE’s commitment to ongoing training and development means we can continue to provide the fast, hands-on service that our diverse client base expects and deserves.”
For more details about VFE’s vacuum furnace, pumps and autoclave training call +44 (0)1384 426170.