Paper Machine Fitter pilot project - Mondi Artisan Programme

Training of artisans is a global problem. All over the World it is reported that there is a critical and growing shortage of these important skills. There is a general opinion in the population at large that only a person that cannot cope at school should become an artisan. This while the technology that must be maintained is busy becoming more and more complex. This leads to, amongst others, an increase in modularisation so as to simplify the maintenance process to one of module replacement.

In South Africa, this trend was aggravated by the introduction of compressed and simplified artisan training (e.g. learnerships). This led to many so-called artisans in the market who cannot really perform the maintenance tasks that are required in industry.

One of the reasons for this is that primary technology, or primary technological involvement, is frowned upon in our modern World. The technology that drives the economy is sought for the benefits that it brings, but should please be hidden away as far as is possible (think about the typical car engine being hidden under a large piece of plastic).

The Mondi Artisan Programme was conceived to develop artisans who have been duly trained, through a two-phase process, conceptually visualised through the analogy of scaling Mount Everest (see figure).

The project involved developing the MAP 1 guide for the Paper Machine Fitter position for both the Mondi Richardsbay, and Mondi Merebank plants, working with the Maintenance Business Unit managers of the two plants, the two Reliability Engineers, two Paper Machine Foremen, the Divisional Training Manager, and the Divisional Talent and Development Manager.

Two MAP 1 guides were developed for the two plants, the Merebank guide being 201 pages, and the Richardsbay one 231 pages. These guides are to be used by the artisan for improving his/her skills against well thought through standards, by the various Subject Matter Experts to oversee this process and verifying their development, and by a panel of experts performing final verification.