Control freak gets certified

A self-confessed Control Freak is expecting an increase in business after gaining official Certified Engineer status from control engineering company Mitsubishi Electric.

Clint Johnson, Managing Director of Controls Freaks Ltd, sat the exams and assessment as part of a plan to broaden his business base both geographically and into more sectors. He says that his new title is definitely opening new doors for him, only weeks after passing.

“As a panel builder and programmer in industrial automation, reputation is everything,” says Clint. “I was able to build up Control Freaks in the early days simply on my own reputation. We got business from people with whom I had previously worked and who knew I would do a good job. But ultimately this is quite limiting, you find yourself stuck in one industry and one region – in my case, food processing around East Anglia and Lincolnshire.”

With Control Freaks established Clint started to build a strategy for expansion. His 20+ years in electrical engineering had seen him work in many sectors, including petro-chemical, pharmaceutical, building, textile, food, agricultural and water across the world from Malaysia to Grand Cayman. His skills embrace test & inspection, PLC programming, data networking and SCADA – all valuable experience that he wanted to capitalise upon. As he looked further afield and into new industrial sectors he realised that he would have to differentiate Control Freaks from his competitors so that customers had a concrete reason to go with him.

He knew that a new qualification would help to demonstrate that he was technically capable, but it had to be particularly relevant to control engineering to be instantly recognisable by target customers. He found himself thinking that something similar to the Microsoft Certified Engineer would be ideal.

“I’ve always favoured Mitsubishi hardware and was delighted to discover that they offer – would you believe it – a Mitsubishi Certified Engineer programme!”

This was developed in the UK over many years, based on Microsoft’s model. It has since been exported to Europe, Africa and America. The idea is that it is very flexible, split into modules, and combines both study and practical units. Critically, entry to the scheme is open to anyone active in control engineering; Mitsubishi will assess their capabilities and develop a bespoke training programme for them, taking them as far as they like. Some people just want to do one or two specific modules; others go the whole way and achieve the coveted Certified status.

“I contacted Mitsubishi and Andy Brown came out to assess my practical skills, then give me a formal test of theory. It was all a bit daunting for me with my fiercely independent streak, but I knew it was the first step of my expansion strategy,” recalls Clint.

Andy gives his side of the story: “Clint is not atypical, the vast majority of people on our training programme are working hard and successfully as control engineers. They tend to be self-starters and ambitious. Most need to fit study in around their jobs and families, and most want to balance practise with theory.

“Clint’s assessment showed that he was pretty good in most fields. We decided to put him straight through to some advanced stuff on HMIs and small PLCs, and to look at larger control systems design and implementation too. There was some study and practical work, but before he knew it I was saying: ‘You are ready for the exams’.”

Clint sat three papers and passed them all first time, although Andy is keen to point out that these are real exams and passing is not guaranteed. “This isn’t a roll-up-and-get-your-certificate-scheme. I do have to tell a good few people bad news each year, but we always go through their answers with them in detail and most want to resit as soon as possible.

“The Mitsubishi Certified Engineer qualification is becoming well accepted in industry. When employers or customers are not familiar with it, Mitsubishi will make time and effort to explain its standing to them.”

Clint says he immediately found the qualification gave him an edge when approaching new clients, helping create opportunities in new sectors and beyond his home patch.
“I feel like I have joined the Mitsubishi family and their international reputation is adding to my expertise in a formal and structured way.”

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