Inside the Liebherr Mining Training System
Liebherr is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction machinery. In 1949 the company was started by Hans Liebherr and has grown from a small family operation into a worldwide conglomerate with more than 35,000 employees in 130 companies. Liebherr has been widely acknowledged as a prominent supplier of technically innovative, user-orientated products and services, but recently the multi-national firm has also gained recognition for its pioneering approach to employee management and training.
Introducing the Liebherr Mining Training System (LMTS)
As an operator within the mining industry, Liebherr sells and maintains equipment globally, and as such is required to draw from a wide variety of resources and cultures to train, maintain and operate its diversified product line. With operations and customers located in far-flung – often remote, rural – locations, it had to find a way to support multiple languages, cultures and disciplines while maintaining continuity across the business.
Thus, in 2009, Liebherr Mining made the strategic decision to implement an eLearning strategy to handle the global nature and diversity of its training needs. The Liebherr Mining Training System (LMTS) was initially implemented to provide technical training for its product support field service technicians and those enrolled in the Welder/Fitter apprentice Training Program. Shortly thereafter the LMTS was implemented at the Liebherr Mining Equipment factory in Colmar, France (LEC). The system continues to expand to other mining companies within the Liebherr group with future implementations scheduled for Liebherr Africa, Liebherr Indonesia, Liebherr Russia, Liebherr Argentina, Liebherr Brazil and Liebherr Columbia to name a few.
The company realized that implementing a blended training system would allow it to deliver pre-requisite training online allowing instructors to focus on teaching the higher-level courses. “This helps maximize the training dollar by delivering prerequisite knowledge online and focusing the more costly in-person training on the higher level training. It saves us time and money,’ says, Clint Richards, Technical Training Manager at Liebherr Mining.
LMTS saves the business time and money, while delivering more thorough and strategic training across the business
“This has been a real resource-leveling strategy for Liebherr,” continues Richards. By using one common system throughout Liebherr Mining, the factories and Liebherr Mining operating companies are able to manage certifications easily and quickly, which is critical in the highly regulated industry. Prior to implementing the LMTS, Liebherr stored certification details in a spreadsheet, which did not provide a consistent approach to certification management or compliance. It is common for each worker to require four to five certifications and renew them annually based on training requirements. Failure to comply with certification requirements can lead to expensive fines and penalties.
Providing more employees with development opportunities
Liebherr Mining Equipment strives to provide world-class technical training and support to its customers and sales companies. Through the LMTS, Liebherr Mining provides training to otherwise under utilized populations in economically depressed areas including Ghana, Chile, and in the near future, Indonesia. In Ghana, for example, many local residents cannot read or write, yet they wish to hold a job at Liebherr Mining Ghana. Liebherr provides access to a standard level of training, enabling employees to obtain the training they would have never received before. As a result, Liebherr has provided jobs to 189 employees in Ghana.
In 2012 alone, Liebherr Mining Ghana has trained about 170 employees, the majority of which are technicians. The employees received web based training courses in various engineering disciplines averaging four offerings per person. The biggest advantage recognised to date by the company is that training is now closer to the field technicians. Employees are able to access and attend streamlined training more frequently and regularly, they are also able to request offerings that they find interesting to their field of discipline.
Liebherr Mining Ghana is using Saba Learning Management and its associated web based training platform to reduce the learning gap, thus improving technician’s basic fundamental knowledge both on the various Liebherr mining product and or general engineering.
Rolling out training on a global scale
Liebherr Mining has created a best practice method resulting in a duplicable process for expanding the LMTS project to other countries, as they need it. Once all processes are in place, the program is rolled out in a phased approach to other countries. The company has learned that a support system set up and communication plan in critical, especially in countries across various time zones and languages. Liebherr trains local people from native countries as a learning administrator and they in turn set up escalation processes.
“Implementing a blended training strategy in a traditionally hands-on industry such as mining initially proved challenging. While early on there were many supporters, there were equally as many skeptics. Since implementing the system several customers who previously said eLearning wouldn’t work at their mine site have changed their position and now want to know when they can get on the system. eLearning is like trying to describe the Grand Canyon; you just have to see it. Like the Grand Canyon, once you see it you recognize its value and want more,” comments Richards.
Growth, acceptance and adoption
The success of the Liebherr Mining Equipment project can be measured by its growth, acceptance and adoption by other operating companies around the world. Back in 2009, Liebherr Mining Equipment initially implemented the Liebherr Mining Training System (LMTS) to suit the needs of the customer support group at one location. Today, the project has evolved and operates in several countries; this speaks volumes about the success of the finely tuned implementation program, including setting up training plans for workers based on required skills.
Upon selecting the Saba Learning Management system, Liebherr performed an audit to find out the lowest skill level of the field technicians and build up to the different levels to make an easy progression.
The field service managers also had the problem of needing to send their people overseas for training. Saba’s e-learning modules don’t require a trainer, are shorter in duration (no more than one to one and a half hours), and can be managed directly on the mine site with kiosk computers. The question was “how to manage the progression and the follow up of the training?” Saba Learning Management was the right tool to manage workers’ progressions through the training.
“With Saba, we could introduce the tracking and training progression but also make some curriculums that have a training program for different types of work. We could make different domains, unique for each affiliate with different catalogs. Other operating companies adopted the same model to follow their own specific local training. Since we implemented Saba Learning Management in Ghana, we could see the skills level increasing and the trainees are enjoying following the training at their own pace. Also managers can have an overview of the training skills of their team and register them on training courses,” says Dominique Ehrhardt, Field Service and Training Manager.
An award winning system
The icing on the cake for Liebherr was when the Computerworld Honors Program named the LMTS as a 2013 honors laureate. The annual award honors visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic and educational change.
This honor was given in the category of economic development, and came as a result of Liebherr Mining's initiative to provide diverse technical training to its workforce worldwide. This accolade was awarded just a few months after Liebherr Mining received the Transformative Learning Award at the Saba Global summit, emphasising the success of the system.
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is set to deliver six million tonnes of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”