The first graduates of a new milking machinery technician’s course have completed their qualification – with 10 students from across the country becoming the first to hold the new Parlour Safe certification.
The MEA (Milking Equipment Association) recently teamed up with Reaseheath College in Cheshire and Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, to establish an industry-wide training programme – Parlour Safe – that’ll give dairy farmers confidence in the ability of the parlour professional on their farm.
“The objective of the Parlour Safe scheme is to provide a common means of benchmarking and monitoring for assessing the competence of technicians and others employed within the milking equipment sector,” says Mike Cullen, Parlour Safe course leader at Reaseheath.
“It’s an excellent way of ensuring that farmers know who is ensuring their dairy equipment is working efficiently and is correctly maintained by someone with a recognised technical qualification.”
The scheme acknowledges the varying levels of knowledge and experience within the industry, so has devised four categories of qualification, each one having specific pre-requisites and offering even those most experienced an opportunity to learn and share information.
Category one involves self-registration online, category two is the standard qualification, category three advanced and category four master.
The first grouping of 10 students completed their category three qualification, and including industry expert John Baines, technical director at Fullwood Ltd, who has over 40 years of experience but feels there is always scope to learn.
“I think it’s important to develop professionally and demonstrate to your customers that you’re proactive and willing to learn,” he says. “This course allowed me to benchmark my skills against other professionals, and to improve my knowledge of what is a fast-changing industry.”
Those on the course found it invaluable, both in terms of looking at a holistic approach to the whole milking parlour, and to exchange ideas with fellow students.
“We are delighted the industry is taking this issue so seriously, and that we have so many potential students wanting to take future courses,” says Ruth Bailey, CEO of the Milking Equipment Association.
“With milking equipment getting more and more sophisticated, it’s crucial that we set standards for our technicians, and that farmers have the reassurance that they’re working with properly qualified individuals.
“A category three Parlour Safe technician can be professionally registered with the Engineering Council, after which he is able to use the initials ‘EngTech’ after his name, signifying that he has met the necessary competence and commitment standards.”
The first 10 students to complete the Reaseheath category three course were:
David Blackburn who works for Lely in Aberdeen;
Andrew Davies who works for Fullwood in Shropshire;
Robin Hancock, DeLaval in Ireland;
Clive Birch, Fullwood, south west;
Keith Stewart, GEA, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire;
Gareth Thomas, GEA, South Wales;
Andy Fray, DeLaval, southern England;
Iain Burdon, GEA, south west;
Andy Pitman, Fullwood, Shropshire;
John Baines, Fullwood, Shropshire.