23 May, 2022

Raising the bar in fluid power and systems training (Oct 09)

09 November, 2009

Hydraulics & Pneumatics spoke with David Cook, sector manager for technology at Banff & Buchan College, about the educational establishment’s fluid power and systems training regime, including an important recent development.

Banff and Buchan College is situated in Fraserburgh near Aberdeen, the oil capital of Europe. The college has a long-established and successful relationship both with industry and with many Scottish universities, helping students to secure employment or go on to higher education. It offers a wide range of courses in a variety of learning and attendance modes; such as full time, part time, work-based, day release, block release or evening class. The college has been running a series of well-respected engineering practice courses for many years, including those catering for fluid power and systems training requirements. In addition to its Fraserburgh location, the college has a centre near Aberdeen airport that caters for this type of technology training. “Being close to the airport, this centre can be particularly convenient for many of our students who fly in from various companies around the UK,” said David Cook, the college’s sector manager for technology.

Full industrial application
In terms of course format, key principles and practices can be studied using computer software. These principles and practices can then simulated on hydraulics training equipment, after which students can apply their knowledge to industrial-standard hydraulics systems. One recent announcement has been the college’s further development of course content to include full industrial application, as Cook explains: “We can now cover everything from principles and practices, to design and design faults, through to prototyping and prototyping construction faults, real build and real-build faults and finally onto actual faults and circuits that are up and running. So, now that we also look at equipment in actual use, we cover the whole process.”

Cook stressed that the college believes in keeping its courses as flexible as possible, whether the discipline in question is intermediate hydraulics, advanced hydraulics or electro-hydraulics – or whether specific knowledge requirements relate to pressure release valves or directional control valves, etc. “It’s also worth pointing out that everything we teach can be mirrored both in pneumatics and hydraulics, and can also cover electro-hydraulics and electro-pneumatics – up to proportional control,” he said, adding that many of the companies the college works with in the oil-related industries around Aberdeen look for a multi-skilling element within the courses. “This is understandable if you consider the cost of flying someone out to your rig just to re-regulate a piece of equipment,” said Cook. “So, we can, for example, set up a pressure control sequence and then show people how to set it up themselves by learning a series of maintenance set-up functions. So, we always try to match exactly what is needed.”

Rewarding careers
In terms of age range, students can enroll from around 12 onwards in order to study for Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) National Certificate Level units in both pneumatics and hydraulics. The same functional units can be gained by students up to around the age of 16. “We also train students to Higher National level, and these units can go together to form a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND),” explained Cook, who added: “Successful students have very high rates of getting employment in their chosen discipline, and many of our graduates have gone on to have rewarding careers. Our partnerships with employers of all sizes, from Shell UK to local businesses, ensures that employability is one of the key underlying principals of our courses, and we support our employers, many of whom follow the modern apprenticeship scheme. The sector draws from its diverse elements to ensure all programmes are supplemented by options from other disciplines from across the sector. This ensures students gain as wide as possible an understanding of their chosen subject context within the wider engineering field.”
For more information on Banff and Buchan College courses, phone 01346 586100 or visit www.banffbuchan.com.

[Photo caption] Successful Banff and Buchan College students have very high rates of getting employment in their chosen discipline, and many graduates have gone on to have rewarding careers.


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