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Project delivered by Skills Lab graduate gains global attention

Skills Lab,

Assa Abloy Maintenance Electrician, Ben Sayers, has been recognised by his employer and attracted the attention of the global parent company after designing, building, and commissioning a data acquisition, recording and reporting system that monitors utility consumption at their two Melbourne-based sites.

A recent graduate of Skills Lab’s Certificate IV in Industrial Automation and Control, Ben says completing the course with Skills Lab helped him deliver the project efficiently and with a fresh perspective. 

We caught up with Ben to learn more about his journey.


What is your current role and day-to-day responsibilities?

I’m a Maintenance Electrician at Assa Abloy, working in a small team that responds to site and maintenance requisitions. If we have a machine breakdown, I'll work on that, but in the interim, I work on implementing new automated machinery into our factories to upgrade our existing equipment and processes. 

Assa Abloy encourages employees to pursue learning and development opportunities and was really supportive throughout my journey with Skills Lab. I believe ongoing learning is crucial to remain sharp in the rapidly evolving digital world, so having this support from start to finish was fantastic.

Tell us about the course you studied with Skills Lab. 

I studied Certificate IV in Industrial Automation and Control for my C7 Certification. Instrumentation and PLC logic were the main units, which involved working with Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and Human Machine Interfaces (HMI).

The course started with the basics and then as it progressed, we completed more advanced programming utilising the training rigs in Skills Lab. By the end, we would get given a program, commission the machine [training rig], and run it like a mini factory. Then, we would leave the room. The trainer would put a fault in the code and a fault on the training rig and then we'd return to the Lab and find the fault.

There were also a lot of quality management system units which is a bit outside of what I do, but it's good to learn more about production because you get a better idea of how large organisations work.

How do the skills you learned apply to your current role?

One project I'm currently working on where these skills have been particularly useful is an energy monitoring project. Assa Abloy was looking to gain greater insights into production efficiencies, and I was tasked with coming up with a solution to monitor critical assets on-site.

I created a solution from scratch that monitors the water and electricity status for downtime, runtime, idle time, and more – of every machine on-site. 

Building this system from the ground up, I integrated the on-site assets with the digital system, wrote the program and logic in the background, and developed the HMI page. I connected this solution with a secure intranet page with an interactive dashboard to visualise key production information and provide faster insights to management. 

The skills I learned throughout the course with Skills Lab have applied well to this project, particularly in applying my learnings about ladder logic to make the dashboard look neater, cleaner, and more professional. 

I haven't done much of the dashboard creation up to this point, so having support from industry professionals was really valuable in helping me be more efficient. We also learned about the level and flow of water meters and had to set up water meters in the lab, which was a highly transferable skill for this project.

The company has been happy with the results so far, and I'm looking forward to continuing to work on adding new features to the system going forward, including integrating gas monitoring in the near future. 

How was the support from trainers and engineers from Skills Lab and SAGE Group? 

With programming, you can very much get into a cycle of rinse and repeat. You can copy what you've seen before and go with that. However, I found that the trainers and engineers on hand throughout the course gave me a lot of different logic techniques and programming and different ways to program, which was a refreshing change.

What were your 3 biggest takeaways?

  1. Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs)
    • Faster processes to producing clean dashboards.
  2. Level and flow for our water meters
    • We had to set up water meters in the lab, a highly transferable skill for my current project.
  3. New techniques in programming
    • Learning different ways to program – including learning about ladder logic.

What would you say to anyone considering applying for Skills Lab? 

I would recommend it, especially if you’re in an electrical field and looking to upskill in instrumentation or automation, it’s a great option to take the next step forward in your career.