REND LAKE COLLEGE BOLSTERS CTA PARTNERSHIP WITH TECHNICIAN TRAINING
Continental Tire technicians Steve Morgan (LEFT) of Belle Rive and Josh White of McLeansboro work with Festo valves during a Rend Lake College training series launched recently at the Mt. Vernon plant. RLC officials sat down with CTA leaders to develop a training program that will help make production more efficient by enhancing the troubleshooting skills technicians use on the floor. The class could potentially reach around 200 employees in the maintenance department at the 3,000,000 square-feet facility in Mt. Vernon that produces more than 40,000 passenger and truck tires every day. CLICK HERE for a larger image.
MOUNT VERNON, Ill. – For a company that locally produces more than 40,000 passenger and truck tires every day, making sure machines are up and running is an absolute must. That’s why Continental Tire the Americas in Mt. Vernon recently called upon Rend Lake College to help train its technicians to be the best troubleshooters they can be.
The training series on Festo valves was recently launched at the 3,000,000-square-feet plant in Mt. Vernon. It could potentially see a couple hundred employees in the maintenance department rotate through its doors and back onto the factory floor where their job is to monitor and maintain key components in the tire production process.
RLC Applied Science and Technology Division Chair Terry Wilkerson said CTA has been a fantastic partner to work with over the years and the development of this training series has been no exception.
“They tell us what they need and we provide it,” Wilkerson said. “And I’ve got to give it to Continental Tire for being proactive, sitting down with us and being a partner in not only the delivery of the training, but in setting up what kind of training they need. By giving us guidance in setting up the curriculum, they are going to be happier with it.”
Fred Epplin has been a reliability engineer at CTA for eight years. He is responsible for monitoring equipment for repeat failures and correcting them. Keeping machines up and running and reducing downtime caused by components that fail are extremely important to his mission. He has been working closely with RLC officials to ensure the training is relevant and effective.
“We are educating our technicians on the proper troubleshooting techniques when working on pneumatic valves, especially the Festo valves, that our equipment has,” said Epplin.
Technicians being more skilled at troubleshooting will reduce machine downtime and increase production, according to Epplin. Pneumatic operations on equipment are absolutely essential to building tires at CTA, he said.
“[Problems with cylinders] are one of the leading issues we have with equipment,” he said. “For one thing, you have leaks that occur on the cylinders that cost us money and that is an expense that could be avoided. We are also working on flow controls – teaching technicians how to adjust flow controls that can make the machines run more efficiently and smoother, and extend the longevity of the components.”
Steve Morgan, a CTA employee from Belle Rive who recently completed the training with 10 coworkers, said he is glad CTA officials invested the man hours to conduct it and feels it will be very beneficial in his role at the plant.
Technicians train for four days in a classroom setting, filled with valve banks and controls – the same components they use on the floor.
“They are training on electrically operated solenoid control valves,” said RLC Industrial Maintenance Professor Chris Nielsen. “They have all kinds of pneumatic controls – photo-electric sensors, proximity detectors and relay valves. These are the things that actually push, pull, press and make things happen.”
Nielsen said the college is also providing CTA with welding training to beef up skills in that area. The Festo training series is ongoing with a new group of employees each week. According to Nielsen, around 200 employees in the maintenance department are potential candidates for the training.
“We are thrilled that CTA trusts us to facilitate its operations,” said Wilkerson. “It is a huge element of local economy and an international company focused on dynamic progress in the industry, and we are very proud to be its partner.”