In November 2022, Daniel Kohler became the new head of the Pilz Academy, looking after the worldwide training offer for machinery safety and automation from Pilz. In this interview he tells us what he values about the Pilz Academy, and how he wishes to write another chapter in its history.
Alongside products and services, the Pilz Academy is a key element at Pilz, with a long-standing tradition. As the “new recruit”, how do you see the Academy and the training that’s on offer?
Daniel Kohler: I am convinced that engineers need the necessary competence and an in-depth understanding in order to implement machinery safety in compliance with directives and standards. However, in engineering or electrotechnology training, the issue of health and safety is often covered only briefly. In many cases, engineers can only acquire the necessary knowledge through their own practical experiences.
For decades, the Pilz Academy has bridged this gap with training on machinery safety. What’s more, our training on our components, systems and services support our customers worldwide with plant and machine automation. Our trainers are engineers or technicians with many years of experience in automation technology and machinery safety. All of them, without exception, have practical experience. I am very proud of the strong foundation we have at Pilz.
In 1 countries
With 1 trainers
Around 1,000 people
Can you say a little more about the people in the Pilz Academy who share their knowledge of machinery safety and automation?
The people behind the Academy are experts in their field. They have many years of know-how and pass it on accordingly, all over the world. That is our motivation: sharing knowledge so that our delegates – both internal and external – can subsequently do their job better. Our trainers are passionate about it. You see that at the very least in their demeanour, when they are presenting the training. The feedback we get from customers repeatedly is that our enthusiasm rubs off on customers, the trainer’s intrinsic motivation is infectious. That’s what it’s about. The long tradition of the Pilz Academy, coupled with many years of experience and the daily commitment of my colleagues. I value that very much.
This year Pilz is celebrating its 75th anniversary. It’s mainly our values that have brought us through this long period. How is this expressed in contact with the Pilz Academy?
For me, the Pilz Academy reflects the passion and enthusiasm at Pilz – but the spirit of partnership too. We foster long-term relationships with our customers. There is recertification for our seminars such as CMSE (Certified Machinery Safety Expert), so delegates are guests at Pilz again and again. Valuable exchange between the most diverse delegates is also very important to us. We take the time for that. And at the end of each course we bid farewell to highly qualified customers – if they have passed the test on our expert seminars, they are even certified by TÜV Nord.
Speaking of which: what do our customers take from the safe automation training?
Perhaps I should answer the question the other way round: what do they leave behind? Because in the best case, their machinery safety concerns are lifted from their shoulders. We are always up to date in matters concerning the relevant standards and directives. We explain to our delegates how to apply them correctly in practice. Thanks to the trainer’s professional experience, there are many examples – “true stories” – which we discuss together. As well as these seminars we also offer product training, on our configurable safe small controller PNOZmulti for example. In these courses, for example, we demonstrate how to use our products and advise on how to achieve maximum benefit from an individual application.
Pilz Product Trainings
1. PNOZmulti – Programming and Service
Delegates obtain an overview of the versatile application options and potential savings to be made using the configurable and safe small controllers PNOZmulti 2, PNOZmulti Classic and PNOZmulti Mini. Using practical exercises and application examples from the field of safety technology, Pilz experts demonstrate how configuration is made simple and flexible with the PNOZmulti Configurator.
2. Automation system PSS 4000 with PSSu PLC – Programming and service
In training on the automation system PSS 4000, delegates learn the benefits of component-oriented programming. In addition, information is provided about the control of functions from the PSSuniversal system using I/O modules and options for communication via SafetyNET p. Simple and versatile configuration even of distributed control systems is illustrated using the software platform PAS4000. Furthermore, sample exercises for the training system are created and tested. The course also covers the use of the troubleshooting function.
Who are the target groups for Pilz Academy training courses?
That ranges from maintenance personnel to works managers. It always depends on the respective course. We offer relevant training opportunities for beginners as well as experts.
And that’s worldwide? How does that work?
Pilz has 42 subsidiaries. Each one offers training based on national legislation and the requirements of the respective market. Alongside we have internationally standardised training courses at Pilz to provide support. These are also available to customers online, so they can access them anywhere. In Africa, for example, where we don’t have any subsidiaries. Our global approach is particularly beneficial to companies wishing to train employees at different sites across the world to the same level of machinery safety – and in their respective local language.
Machinery safety knowledge – live, from anywhere
The new internationally standardised courses in the “International Training Calendar” enhance Pilz’s existing online training offer globally: the existing face-to-face training courses were redesigned as pure online seminars, with the same consistent high quality. Machine manufacturers and operators alike can benefit digitally from the know-how of Pilz experts, wherever they are – for example, in regions where Pilz does not offer face-to-face training in close proximity to customers.
So how important is face-to-face training still in the digital age?
In my opinion, face-to-face training is still very important. These days people often only do E‑Learning or view video tutorials. In my view it’s a fallacy that delegates can apply the content they have seen afterwards. Social interaction is very important, particularly with blended learning, which is a combination of different methods and media, such as face-to-face and E‑Learning. This is where delegates learn most, in my view: Have I understood it correctly? How do the other delegates see it? For me that results in a significantly better learning outcome, which is why this personal interaction is, and remains, very important at Pilz – whether it’s face-to-face training, blended learning or online training.
So what does Pilz’s digital training offer look like?
The Covid pandemic was a key factor for expanding our online offer. What had worked previously in four days face to face, had to be planned more generously online. Since then, for example, delegates can take the CMSE training online in eight half-days, rather than four days on site – with no loss of quality. Our intention is to expand this offer substantially, particularly on shorter courses.
From CMSE to CESA:
Do you have your TÜV certificate already?
© leungchopan/Depositphotos.com; © Monty Rakusen/[CUL] via GettyImages; © Volodymyr Kyrylyuk/iStock/
Thinkstock, © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ostfildern
What is “CMSE” actually?
“Certified Machinery Safety Expert” (online) is a fast-track, comprehensive qualification in machinery safety, risk assessment, mechanical safeguards, electrical safety requirements and much more.
To the training:
CMSE® – Certified Machinery Safety Expert – Pilz INT
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What does “CECE” mean?
“Certified Expert in CE Marking”. The result of this qualification: delegates themselves can perform CE marking on all types of machines in accordance with the relevant standards and regulations.
To the training:
CECE – Certified Expert in CE Marking – Pilz INT
© Maskot/[Maskot] via Getty Images, © iStock.com/zanskar, © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ostfildern
What does “CEFS” stand for?
For “Certified Expert in Functional Safety” of machines. On a two-day expert course, delegates learn about the normative and technical requirements of such a system.
To the training:
CEFS – Certified Expert in Functional Safety – Pilz INT
What does the new
have to offer?
© PeopleImages/[E+] via Getty Images; © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ostfildern
What does the new “CESA” have to offer?
The “Certified Expert for Security in Automation” gives delegates concise Security knowledge in line with the current status of the standards. It enables them to reduce the risk of manipulation or attacks, in order to guarantee safety and availability.
To the training:
CESA – Certified Expert for Security in Automation – Pilz INT
We have already mentioned the long tradition of the Pilz Academy. How will you continue to write its history? What are your plans?
In addition to offering more digital formats such as E‑Learning, blended learning or webinars, I’d also like to expand the training courses themselves. Our latest addition is the CESA – Certified Expert for Security in Automation. This aims to support companies in building up knowledge of Industrial Security, in line with the current status of the standards. What’s currently happening with regard to the new Machinery Regulation is fundamental for the day-to-day work of machine manufacturers and operators. As experts in Safety and Security, we want to support them as best we can. We would also like to further develop our product training on the configurable safe small controller PNOZmulti or our sensor technology offer.
Perhaps a few final words on internationality. One major goal is to continue to push international collaboration. With the cooperation of technical experts from every country, we want to continue to develop high-quality training – as a Pilz family.