Boilermaker and Operating Engineer apprentices get valuable hands-on experience through mobile crane certification course
Sixteen apprentices from Boilermakers Local 40 (Elizabethtown, Ky.) and three apprentices from Operating Engineers Local 181 (Boston, Ky.) participated in the first-ever joint Boilermaker/Operating Engineers apprenticeship training program, on Feb. 8.
Using the Operating Engineers’ mobile crane certification course as a training module, each signalman (Boilermaker apprentice) had to direct a crane operator to move a 2,000-pound weight through a zig-zag pattern of balusters. The exercise involved precise signaling, requiring that the weight not touch the balusters or the ground, and that it not be lifted any higher than two feet. As visual aids, tennis balls were placed on top of each baluster. The balls were not to be knocked off by the weight. In addition, a two-foot chain was attached to the bottom of the weight. The participants had to make sure the end of the chain never left the ground during the exercise.
Boilermaker apprentices utilized three courses with three different types of rigs and three different apprentice operators. “It was truly a great learning experience in realizing how different operators and rigs react to the signals given,” said L-40 instructor L. D. Smith.
In the afternoon session, Boilermaker apprentices operated a Manitowoc crane training simulator to experience exactly what the operator sees and feels inside the rig’s cab. To help learn boom deflection theory, they watched a Bucyrus Erie 50-ton crawler lower its 120-foot boom to the ground. They then toured the inside of a friction drum rig to gain a better understanding of how a friction crane operates.
“The Local 40 apprentices said this training exercise was one of the best hands-on experiences they have encountered during their 576 hours of classroom training,” said L-40 instructor Rick Hope. Hope and Smith join fellow Local 40 instructors Jeff Everly and Terry Barnes in thanking Junnie Pennington, the Operating Engineers Local 181 site manager/instructor — and his fourth-year apprenticeship class — for this joint training exercise. Plans are being made to continue this valuable and successful joint training experience in the future.