“We’ll take the load off your shoulders”

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.

Trainings 2022

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.

A guest at the Pilz Academy: Product training on the automa­tion system PSS 4000 with PSSu PLC from Pilz includes impor­tant tips on pro­gram­ming and ser­vice. © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ost­fildern 
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

Level: Fun­da­mental

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

Level: Advanced

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

Machinery safety wher­ever you are: with the “Inter­na­tional Training Cal­endar”, Pilz cre­ates easy world­wide access to the latest machinery safety knowl­edge. © istock.com/elenaleonova, © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG

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?

What is

© 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

What does

© Valua Vitaly/Shutterstock, © yuri_Arcurs_E+ via Getty Images, © iStock.com/laflor, © Pilz GmbH & Co. KG, Ost­fildern

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

What does
stand for?

© 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.

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