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MRTA FORGES AHEAD IN FACE OF COVID LIMITATIONS
Thursday, 8 October 2020
Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have not held the Murray & Roberts Training Academy (MRTA) back from launching its new engineering centre for underground trackless mining machinery (TMM), but social distancing requirements have limited the number of learners the MRTA can reach.
“Our blended learning environment harnesses various approaches and technologies, including e-learning and simulation, to suit different aspects of our programme,” Tony Pretorius, education, training and development (ETD) executive at Murray & Roberts Cementation, says. “But classroom learning remains important, especially where we prioritise sharing and cross-pollination of work experience.”
Restrictions mean that training areas now can only accommodate 50% of the MRTA’s usual capacity of 420 learners, and the on-site accommodation capacity has been similarly reduced. Demand for training remains strong, however, with the engineering centre for TMM training already busy with its first class of apprentices.
MRTA’s simulation facilities for training operators on mechanised machinery include equipment based on motion platforms to deliver realistic pitch-and-roll effects. Operators’ machine inspection skills are enhanced using virtual reality technology as an added simulation technique, allowing the full competency requirement of the learner to be covered.
“This training is then coupled to learning in our well-equipped mock-up facilities, to determine the learner’s competence and capability,” he says.
As South African underground mines aim to raise productivity with the increased use of mechanised machinery like roof bolters, drill rigs and load-haul dumpers, the engineering centre will play a vital role in raising skills levels among operators, servicemen, artisans and apprentices.
“The country does not have enough suitably trained and experienced artisans to keep the growing number of TMMs well maintained and fully operational,” says Pretorius.