For more than 15 years, hydraulic systems specialist Hyspecs has been continually upgrading the technical knowledge and hands-on skills not only of its own staff but also of others involved in the hydraulic engineering trade. Its internal HCHE training programme is one of the best in the sector, and its external two-day hydraulics training seminars, held in Auckland, Christchurch and Melbourne are very popular with the industry.
When Wynne Cranston established Hyspecs in 1972, he dreamt of a company that would exist for its clients in the long run. Part of his strategy was to provide premium customer service, backed by strong technical ability and a complete range of quality components to provide complete system solutions.
Key to Hyspecs’ strategy from the late 1990s to the present is ensuring that its own staff has up-to-date knowledge and practical skills in hydraulics. But finding an institution that could, on a regular basis, provide training in hydraulics to the depth of knowledge that Hyspecs requires was close to impossible.
“Our new sales people come to us with an engineering background, but many have not had in-depth training in hydraulics as this is not available in New Zealand or Australia,” says chief executive officer Richard Krebs, who has been with Hyspecs for more than 30 years.
“What the universities teach is a very broad spectrum of engineering knowledge, while we are more focused on hydraulics. We looked around and could not find any training provider that imparts the depth of knowledge we desire, so we decided to devise it ourselves.”
Mr Krebs found a suitable person who could help him run Hyspecs’ training programmes in Albert Wang, who joined Hyspecs as a sales engineer in July 1994. Mr Wang holds a master’s degree in Engineering, specializing in fluid power, from Harbin Institute of Technology, China. He also worked at the Fluid Power Department of the university for more than eight years as a researcher and lecturer.
“Albert was the logical person to take charge of training,” Mr Krebs says. “so he took on the role of technical manager. Working with other senior members within the Hyspecs group, he designed a comprehensive set of hydraulics courses for the company.”
Hyspecs, unlike many others in the hydraulic engineering solutions industry, insists on its sales engineers knowing its products and having the ability to supply on-the-spot hydraulic solutions. Its induction programme requires that each new employee learns about the different areas of the company’s business, from manufacturing manifolds in Hytech, to parts and services in hydraulics, through to health and safety and administration.
Employees who have been with Hyspecs for a length of time and have reached a level of skill sets are required to sit the Hyspecs Certificate of Hydraulic Engineers (HCHE) course, of which there are three levels: Assistant Sales (or Services) Engineer, Sales (or Services) Engineer, and Senior Sales (or Services) Engineer.
Each course takes between two and five years to complete, depending on a person’s background and capability to learn. There are regular tests with a final three-hour written exam. After completing the written exam, there is a one-hour oral exam conducted by Messrs Krebs and Wang.
“These are tough exams and often are not passed the first time,” Mr Wang says. “Those who pass the exams are awarded HCHE, with the grade they achieved. Once gained, these qualifications give a huge boost to our engineers’ confidence and their ability to help our customers.”
Mr Krebs says the HCHE is a huge effort to raise the knowledge and skills standard among staff, “but this also gives us a measuring tool to see where the people are in our organization in terms of their knowledge”.
As training is key to Hyspecs’ business culture, there is a continuing programme of product training on new technology as it becomes available to the market. Hyspecs’ suppliers, including Eaton, HydraForce and Poclain Hydraulics visit regularly to provide training on their new products and technologies.
Hyspecs has filled the gap in hydraulics training in New Zealand and Australia. Externally, it has been offering intensive two-day hydraulics seminars for its customers and the wider industry for more than 15 years. At present the seminars are held in Auckland, Christchurch and Melbourne, with the Auckland seminar usually selling out very quickly.
“Not only do our customers like to attend, but we also have our competitors attend,” Mr Krebs says. “Our customers such as hose doctors have found the course on fundamental hydraulics useful to extend their services.
“It shows us that people want this knowledge and they are not getting it elsewhere, and we are providing that service for them. Hyspecs will continue in its acquisition of knowledge in hydraulics to best serve our customers now and into the future.”
Photo: Hyspecs chief executive officer Richard Krebs usually conducts the external hydraulics courses held in Auckland, Christchurch and Melbourne.