Cummins launches a training centre in Johannesburg aimed at teaching technicians the fundamentals of fitting, maintaining and servicing engines powered by compressed natural gas
With compressed natural gas (CNG) being perceived as an energy source capable of replacing traditional, fossil-based fuels, a variety of engine manufacturers and OEMs are investing in research and development of motors that run on the alternative fuel.
Multinational heavy equipment engine manufacturer Cummins recently added a CNG engine training programme to courses already available at the company’s Africa Learning Centre in Kelvin, Johannesburg.
Accredited by merSETA, the programme has been introduced at a time when global and local authorities have called for increasingly stringent environmental standards and, with clean burning natural gas being a plentiful resource on the continent, it makes perfect sense for Cummins to expand its scope in Africa.
The fitting, servicing and maintenance of CNG powered engines present new challenges, particularly from a safety perspective. “There is a lot of discussion around alternative fuels and cleaner solutions in terms of public transportation in particular,” says John Shuttleworth, service operations director at Cummins. “It is therefore imperative that when people work on these products, they understand the underlying dynamics.”
Shuttleworth adds that Cummins prides itself on staying ahead of the technology curve and he cites the CNG training programme as a clear example of the company’s commitment to Africa, with technicians no longer having to go abroad to learn the fundamentals of the technology.
He says CNG offers ultra-low emissions in addition to benefits such as exceptional performance and reduced engine noise. “OEMs interested in CNG can now rest assured that a local training programme is indeed up and running. While we have started to funnel our own internal technical people through the course, in future we aim to offer it to the rest of the industry as well,” he says.
The programme is run by a fully-trained and accredited technician and encompasses the necessary equipment and top-quality facilities. Shuttleworth says that Cummins’ aim is not to sell CNG products directly into the market.
“We expect that the products will flow organically into the mainstream via OEMs. However, we still have a responsibility to support the products, and hence the establishment of the training programme.”
The programme represents the latest development in Cummins’ training methodology, applying a balance of virtual, theoretical and practical teaching as implemented in advanced industries in order to equip technicians with higher levels of understanding.
“We find there are so many new products coming into Africa which sometimes creates a challenge to stay ahead of the learning curve. Virtual simulation offers an ideal opportunity for us to close the gap, as well as allowing us to present training at our customers’ own facilities. The methodology also makes good business sense,” Shuttleworth says.