The first specialist technicians to achieve a new Parlour Safe Category 3 Accreditation for the milking equipment industry have graduated from Reaseheath College.
Professionals from five of the UK’s leading manufacturers, DeLaval, Fullwood, GEA UK, Lely and BouMatic, received their awards from the Cheshire college, which at present is the only training provider to deliver the bespoke advanced course.
The five companies are key members of the Milking Equipment Association (MEA), which has worked with Reaseheath to ensure that the training meets the needs of its industry. As well as giving nationally recognised status to its engineers, the accreditations, which progress from Category 1 (self registration) to Category 4 (Master Technician), set a benchmark for installation and servicing standards and provide a clear career development path aimed at attracting young engineers into the industry.
Accredited by the Landbased Technician Accreditation, the scheme is overseen and awarded by the Institution of Agricultural Engineers and is based on best practice in the supply, installation, maintenance and use of milking equipment and in dairy cow health and welfare. Although currently voluntary, it is likely that all technicians will be required to achieve accreditation in the future.
Reaseheath College offers the block release training at Categories 2 and 3 and plans to offer Category 4 by September 2018. The scheme is proving extremely popular and has 533 delegates currently registered. Modules include the principles of milking machines and hydraulics, milk quality, legislation and Health and Safety.
Explained Reaseheath Course Leader Mike Cullen: “Parlour Safe provides a means of benchmarking and assessing the competence of technicians employed within the milking equipment sector. The MEA has established this scheme so it offers respected, professional, accreditation and we’ve worked as a partnership to ensure that the syllabus is both credible and challenging.
“It’s an extremely positive step and follows other professions by establishing a recognised standard which farmers can recognise and benefit from.”
MEA Chief Executive Ruth Bailey added: “As the structure of dairy farming changes and demands from the milk purchaser become more stringent, it is critical that we validate our professionals and offer the assurances that the sector is looking for. Parlour Safe offers a recognised standard of technical excellence. Farmers can immediately identify that their parlours are serviced and maintained by accredited and competent technicians, while the technicians are validated with a professional accreditation to the highest standards.”
John Baines, Technical Director at Fullwood Ltd. in Shropshire, was one of the 18-strong cohort to achieve the Category 3 accreditation at Reaseheath. A highly respected parlour technician with over 40 years of experience, John said: “This course has allowed me to benchmark my skills against other professionals and to improve my knowledge of a fast changing industry.
“Because this is a recognised accreditation scheme, farmers can be assured that their milking machine technician offers a high level of service and knowledge. It adds value to our profession and gives confidence in our ability to give advice and information.
“Health and Safety has also become an important part of our role. Parlour Safe accreditation ensures that technicians are fully trained to advise on safe working environments in milking parlours for employees and visitors.
“Farmers should also remember that operating with efficient and well maintained equipment makes commercial sense, as it’s critical to high cow performance and maximum milk output.”