There is one refrain we hear more often from our peers and customers than any other: there is a shortage of people with the skills required to work at manufacturers and control system integrators. There are many causes for this scarcity of talent, but one thing is clear: more people need to controls and automation training, and training will help.
At Automationnth, we’ve experienced this same dilemma. We could grow faster and get more work if only we had more skilled, experienced controls engineers….but they are hard to find! Plus, many of the graduates coming out of engineering school have not had hands-on exposure to basic controls hardware like PLCs and HMIs. So a number of years ago, we decided to take matters into our own hands and create a comprehensive controls and automation training program for our new engineers that we hire straight out of school.
We call our internal training program NTH University. Our goal is to grow our new employees into fully capable, skilled controls engineers as efficiently as possible. To do this, we’ve created a curriculum of courses that cover topics including PLC programming, controls design, HMI programming, robotics, vision systems, industrial ethernet, and more. The courses end with assessments to evaluate comprehension. We’ve also built hardware to provide hands-on application of the course material, including trainer boxes for many PLC platforms and a small conveyor system to apply basic programming logic.
After telling a few customers about our NTH University program, they asked if we could train their employees. We had to spend some time customizing our courses to deliver what the customer requested, but we delivered the controls and automation training and received glowing reviews from our customer’s management.
Following this positive experience, we decided we were obligated to open up this training program to the rest of our customers. Training is a big need in our industry, and our customers could greatly benefit by providing their employees the training we’ve spent years developing.
We also believe we can provide training that is different from what is available today. Many of the existing training programs in the industry are focused on a single platform, or are a one-size-fits-all course that covers only a portion of what manufacturing employees need to be effective. However, our customers use many different platforms, so a training program focused on one particular platform is not sufficient, and a one-size-fits-all training does not address all the topics that are most relevant to the customer.
That’s why we’ve developed our coursework to be modular and completely flexible. We adapt our training program around what your employees need. The training covers the most relevant topics in the most efficient manner possible, with no waste. Prior to the training, you will fill out a survey that includes topics, platforms, length of training, and location, so that we can tailor the training to your company.
How It Will Work
We’re partnering with Frank Lamb to lead our training operations. Frank is a leading controls and automation educator in our field and published author of two books (see them here and here). We have a long history of working with Frank and we’re very confident that he possesses the skills and passion to deliver training with excellence to our customers. Frank has developed a top-notch training facility in Lebanon, TN with an impressive array of hardware to train on including process controls, a pick and place operation, conveyor, HMI, PLC and more.
The courses we are currently offering (see full list here) are just a portion of our NTH University curriculum. We have more internal controls and automation training courses that are on our roadmap to offer our customers in the future. If you’re interested in a topic that you don’t see on our course list, let us know, and chances are we will be able to put together a training for you.