Ohorongo’s Simulation Training Centre to boost local skills

Windhoek: The Minister of Mines, Obeth Kandjoze, inaugurated the first-ever Simulation Training Centre (STC) for control rooms at the Ohorongo Cement Sargberg Plant last week.

The new control rooms form part of a total investment of N$150 million that includes a composite cement plant and a new packaging line.

Ohorongo Cement, which currently supplies the Namibian and export market with only three different product types, made the massive investment to meet the growing demand for additional cement types.

“The re-investment into the country is done to ensure a sustainable Namibian cement industry before any benefits have been derived by shareholders. This proves how serious Ohorongo Cement is regarding its investment in the country and its people,” said Hans-Wilhelm Schutte, Managing Director of Ohorongo Cement.

“We are looking forward to grow local shareholding even further in future, supporting government initiatives like Vision 2030, Growth At Home and NDP4,” said Schutte. Ohorongo Cement already has one of the most technologically advanced cement plants on the continent and employs a 98 percent Namibian workforce.

However, due to the technical nature of the plant there are critical areas, where specialised skills are needed and because this is the only cement factory in Namibia, such highly specialised skills are not yet available.

Schutte said cement and heavy mining industrial expertise are necessary to establish the operational structures of the cement factory. One of the critical areas identified is the availability of experienced and skilled supervisors and control room operators.

Schutte added that the training of supervisors and control room operators specific to the cement industry remains a huge challenge, because Ohorongo Cement is the only cement producer in Namibia. The skills and knowledge needed can only come from a combination of simulation training and continuous on-the-job training. To date, no simulation training facility existed in Namibia.

The newly acquired Simulex cement plant simulator will be used to train local production supervisors, foremen and control room operators.

KHD Humboldt Wedag developed this specific simulator, in cooperation with VDZ Research Institute of the Cement Industry. This system currently has over 200 applications worldwide and provides a very realistic reconstruction of the behaviour of the production plant, combined with a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA).

During simulator training, learners are exposed to the dynamic behaviour of a cement plant, in a real-time based environment. The simulator provides a huge scope of process variables, providing the learner the opportunity to simulate grinding raw material, coal and clinker and to handle and optimise kiln and cooling processes without being connected to the real plant.

As part of the second phase of training and in order to ensure formal recognition, Ohorongo plans to involve the Namibian Training Authority in the certification of the Training Centre, as well as the Chamber of Mines of Namibia.

Training would initially be provided to 20 employees where after it will be rolled out to include instrumentation artisans and selected artisans, targeting an estimated 30 to 35 employees during the first phase.

The broader rollout during the second phase to the industry includes mostly mining and manufacturing, working through the Namibia Manufacturers Association (140 members), and the Chamber of Mines Namibia (112 members).