It is very important to have trained and skilled machine operators to ensure construction projects are completed both on time and of desired quality. Besides modern construction involves high capex equipment being operated in various hazardous zones/tasks which entail strict adherence to safety measures and procedures at all times to prevent occupational injuries to personnel and damage to equipment. Safety is a zero tolerance activity. This was said by Mu. Moahan, President of Builders’ Association of India (BA) during his opening remarks at the virtual ‘Workshop of importance of Training Construction Machinery Operators and Mechanics’ on October 10, 2020.
The workshop was organised under the aegis of BAI’s ‘Knowledge Disseminating Series 2020-21’ by the Mechanization Committee of BAI jointly with Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC).
Arvind Garg, President, IESC & Past President, Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association and Executive Vice President & Head, Mining & Construction Equipment Business – Larsen & Toubro Ltd. in his keynote address gave an overview of the industry and highlighted the fact that high capex construction equipment with state of the art technology were entering the market every year creating a huge demand for trained and skilled operators.
He listed out the advantages of employing trained operators such as higher productivity, minimal down time and enhanced equipment life, beside savings in opex costs. He further remarked that it was ironic that while one needed a license for driving a two wheeler there was no such requirement for operating an excavator. He was optimistic that in the next few years this anomaly will be rectified which will go a long way in realizing the goals of our Skill India Mission.
In his presentation, H S Mohan - CEO IESC, gave a brief history of IESC covering its objectives, the challenges faced and achievements since inception, as well as its goals in the coming years. He drew the attention of all to the IESC website which had a section devoted to the particulars of all personnel including contact details who have been certified, and which can be referred to by the BAI Members for employing skilled operators & mechanics. Coming down to specifics of the workshop, he highlighted the advantages of training and certification, firstly to the operator such as recognition of skill sets, improved morale and confidence at work place and progression in career; and secondly to the equipment in terms of increased productivity, minimal downtime, reduction in safety incidents and increased machine life. Moving forward he outlined the field support that would be needed from BAI and its members and expressed confidence in kick starting the training programs very soon.
In the ensuing Q&A session, queries from members were addressed. A few of the salient ones are given below.
National Occupation Standards (NOS) & Qualification Packs (QPs) for Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) are being proposed to be formulated and support from select contractors will be taken shortly.
Training and Certification of operators of member companies of Construction Equipment Rental Association (CERA) will be taken up once the formalities of MOU etc are finalized soon.
Post training there has been a visible improvement in fuel efficiency (5-7%) and spare parts consumption of 8-10% reduction in ground engaging tools, undercarriage & tyres etc.
Post pandemic there has been a shift from traditional instructor led training to virtual online mode especially for theory sessions. However practical/hands-on session will continue as before.
In his concluding remarks, V G Sakthi Kumar, Chairman, BAI's Mechanization and Modern Technology Committee and Managing Director of Schwing Stetter India Pvt. Ltd., stated that in the coming years building & construction activities in India will rise to global levels leading to large scale mechanization, using equipment with latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to meet project deadlines. This in turn will result in a huge demand for skilled operators. While it was agreed up- skilling will result in a marginal increase in salaries and attrition in workforce for better career prospects; the overall benefits far outweigh these and needs to be viewed pragmatically.
He further emphasised that while recruiting Operators and Mechanics, the members needs to insist on certified personnel for overall benefits. Additionally, he suggested that instead of offering ‘gifts’ to the employees, the same amount may be spent on training of the field personnel to boost employee morale and career progression.
Sushil Agarwal, Co-Chairman, BAI's Mechanization and Modern Technology Committee who co-ordinated the organising of the workshop, said that BAI will organise more such events, which will gear up the Indian construction industry.