TT&T: technology transfer & training

Fabio Perini S.p.A.'s new business unit offers instruction and training programs on tissue converting lines.


The application of technology to machines at the service of man has always had come to terms with the difficult task of uniting high performance with ease of use and maintenance. This endeavour has not always yielded the most desirable results. Verifying this obvious assumption is very simple: how many of us have recently bought the latest-model cell phone or VCR and have had to tackle the arduous task of deciphering the enigmatic instructions required to have it function correctly at its full potential? From commonly used devices such as household appliances, cars, PCs, to more complex machinery destined for a more restrained group of utilizers, designers' efforts should be aimed at successfully solving the problem: "how can I succeed in communicating the knowledge necessary to make my product work?" Since its conception, therefore, a given project should follow a parallel path leading to an innovative final product, respectful of safety parameters, but also to one that is easy to use and repair. For what concerns tissue converting machines, it is true that the use of modern technology makes them easily operable. This can be seen in the simplified procedures, in the clear diagnostics of the working phases and of possible breakdowns. But it is also true that very specialized technical preparation is necessary for those who have to intervene in the case of production cycle changes, parts replacement or fine tuning. This constant formation process is due partly to the continuous updating in technologies, and partly also to recent developments in the world of business which entail changes in the workforce. In line with this trend and interpreting this need, Fabio Perini created last year the "TT&T" Business Unit, which stands for Technology, Training, Transfer, and began investing means and human resources towards this goal. The intent, or better, the mission, is to supply a service through providing a deeper understanding of present technologies and training of those technicians (whether they be company personnel or customer's personnel) who will be using, installing or repairing Fermi machines.

LET'S SEE THE TT&T UNIT IN MORE DETAIL. The business unit is located in the new P.I.P. industrial facility of Mugnano Sud, in Building C. A total area of 900 m² distributed on three floors house offices and classroom halls for the different work groups:

Embossing Development Centre (EDC), for the study and development of new embossing patterns, Machinery Safety Studies and Certification (CE Marking), for marking the machinery according to European safety norms.

Technical Documentation and Manuals Development Centre, wholly dedicated to the development and publication of technical documentation, and the Training Centre, to study, organize and manage courses for the transfer of knowledge. Furthermore, the Business Unit can count on 1000 m² of assembly floor space. Here are located machines used both for training and trials and laboratories are installed.

EMBOSSING DEVELOPMENT CENTRE (EDC). This structure, which has been described in the May 2000 issue of the Perini Journal, studies new embossing patterns, assists customers in product development and provides other services such as aesthetic simulations, simulations of actual working conditions, support in market trials. To carry out its work it has expressly produced on-hand machinery and can count on qualified outside consultants for the study of the characteristics of the tissue sheet.

MACHINERY SAFETY STUDIES AND CERTIFICATION (CE MARKING). Besides ensuring that the systems and machines built fulfil existing norms, it supplies consultancy and assistance services on safety development and technical integration during the various machine phases and development and adaptation of machines already in operation at customers' facilities.

TECHNICAL DOCUMENTATION AND MANUALS DEVELOPMENT CENTRE. In this department, the staff is dedicated to the production of documentation to be supplied together with the machines, for new or existing projects. Currently, a manuals supply system in CD-ROM has been developed. STAD, as this new Automatic Documentation Processing System is called, concentrates on the most recent interactive information exchange systems and is studying important novelties for the future. Basically, through the increasingly widespread use of information networks based on the Internet, it will be possible to quickly access to a data bank containing a veritable "Central Manuals Library".

This will allow constant updating of information, thus accelerating customer feedback process.

TRAINING CENTRE. This service is intended for both internal and external company personnel.

For Perini staff, it is fundamental for the preparation and mastering of the subjects treated. The criteria followed are: instruct, demonstrate, verify the learning process and involve. In this case, there is a continuous exchange of experiences between instructors and students. A constant evolution where theoretic learning and studying are assisted by the hands-on experience of those who are in daily contact with the machines and devices used.

Besides all this, the availability of the large pool of internal company technicians allows training specialists to immediately verify the efficacy of the methods applied, modify them according to requirements and, if need be, change the language and methods extremely quickly and economically. This way, it is possible to offer customers an extremely rich service, tested and proven.

It is natural that in this case several factors come into play such as, for example, the constant effort to satisfy expectations and requests, maximum readiness and efficiency, confidentiality of specific customer know-how. But the approach is the same: verify that the information transmitted has indeed been received.

Audio-visual equipment is used in the training courses. In the classrooms, trial stations for the control and management of PLC, Robox, electrical devices and other equipment have been set up.

A complete 600-mm pilot line is today located in one portion of the assembly floor. The machine embodies all the characteristics of a real production line comprising all the various units, from the unwind backstands to the log saws. On this machine it is possible to verify settings, carry out complex operational tests, tests on safety, verify production cycles, conduct product simulations, market trials and immediately check the technologies and procedures that have just been learned.

In the course of last year, the TT&T Business Unit held 57 courses for inside and outside company personnel. Each had a different focus whether this be for the mechanical sector, electronic, for operators or for members of the commercial and technical departments, and each has served as a test run for the more ambitious projects programmed for this 2001. Seminars will have as focus Robox, hydraulics, pneumatics, PLC. These projects will be held in an Open House fashion and dedicated to very restricted themes with "knowledge labs" aided by consultants, internal staff as well as personnel from customer companies interested. The immediate future will see a strong effort to meet a new challenge based not only on knowledge, designing and producing but also - and more importantly - designing and producing knowledge. Two sides of the same coin which need each other reciprocally in order to he alive and visible.

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