AVK Academy gains traction in Africa

The Academy, the training arm of AVK Southern Africa, has taken the Group’s training into Africa. With training on Basic Valve Fundamentals and Advanced Valves recently concluded at Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company in Zambia, there are training appointments in Lesotho, Mozambique and Botswana for the remaining year. Training in Malawi is planned for 2020.

Each training module, which consists of two days comprehensive training, is ECSA-accredited (Engineering Council of SA) and worth two CPD points for candidates who achieve the 85% pass rate or higher. The Valves Fundamentals Course provides an introduction to acquire essential knowledge of valves in both theory and practice; and the Advanced Valves Course provides greater insight into principles and practices that address the theories of fluid pressure, fluid flow and field applications.

The AVK Academy, which opened its doors in late 2016, offers training at its state-of-the-art in-house facility at AVK’s premises in Johannesburg and at companies’ premises. The facility caters for up to 40 people, however for training at clients’ premises 30 is the preferred maximum number of candidates. External training is conducted approximately five times a year, more when demand increases, with 10 being the minimum number of candidates required for external training.

“There are some fundamental differences between local training and training in Africa,” explains Academy Facilitator Roelf Frauendorf. “When conducting training locally, candidates have time for additional practical experience between the Fundamentals and the Advanced courses, whereas over-border the two courses are run back-to-back.” He adds that another difference in training, which also impacts local companies opting to have training at their premises, is the lack of the practical aspect.

The Academy’s facilities include a flow lab which demonstrates the flow of water through a series of valves and, being onsite, candidates physically handle the valves on which they are trained. Frauendorf says that for offsite training, in lieu of available equipment, more discussion is given to the practical aspects of the course. “We include a lot more visuals and spend more time on typical examples,” Frauendorf explains. “Many of these result in in-depth discussions, for which we do not limit time, and the resultant interactive Q&As often lead to other discussions on the subject. Upon course completion, all externally trained candidates are as au fait with AVK’s product range as those who come to the Academy.”

Beyond completion of the training programme, AVK Academy personnel continue to provide their knowledge and advice when required. “Some engineers who have completed our training programme and are busy with the design aspect of a new project, will run new valve ideas through us,” Frauendorf points out. “This generally results in a discussion, with AVK acting as offsite consultants – a service we are pleased to be able to provide.”

Once over-border training has been completed, it is by no means the end of the relationship. AVK’s export sales managers continually interact with clients at their premises, dealing with all from a product and training perspective. “We are not just a valve supplier,” Frauendorf enthuses, “but also an educator. We also become a part of our clients’ operations in such a way that they come to us for guidance and, in some instance, return for training when they have new projects with specific requirements.”

Mulonga Water has requested another round of training for additional personnel, and the regional water company for the Lusaka area in Zambia has also requested training. Another country benefiting from AVK’s over-border training is Lesotho, and locally, the company has conducted offsite training in Cape Town and Uppington. AVK will travel to any company in any SA province and southern African country to transfer its valves knowledge.

“Fulfilling our promise to customers to build long-term relationships is of paramount importance,” says John Smit, AVK Exports Manager (Africa). Sharing information with several water utilities, such as Mulonga, enables AVK Southern Africa to assist customers with the best possible fluid control solutions.” “It also plays a role in expanding our global reach,” adds, Frauendorf, “as well as supporting national government’s export programme.”

Frauendorf, who says he loves to train and enjoys the experience with his classes, concludes by saying that training is available to everyone involved in valves. “This includes water and sewage treatment companies, power generation plants, consulting engineers, graduating students and any engineers who deal with valves in the execution of their duties.

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