ONE of the first things that the Integral Coach Factory (did - even before it installed the first lathe - was to establish the Technical Training Centre within the campus. The Centre was inaugurated in March 1954, whereas the first shell was assembled only in October 1955.
Trainees were trained for 18 months, after which they were inducted into the ICF as skilled artisans. Given the few opportunities for technical education in the area at that time, the Training Centre was much sought after. In fact, many of the trainees were sent to Switzerland for training under the supervision of the ICF's collaborator, Swiss Car Elevator Manufacturing Corporation in Zurich.
Currently, the training scheme is organised in two broad categories. Mandatory Training refers to training given to apprentices under the Apprentices Act, 1961. Between 1964 and 1978, over 1,500 apprentices were trained and they joined the ICF after completing their courses. The Centre conducts a campus recruitment programme, which enables students to join prestigious industrial establishments in and around Chennai. Training under the Board of Apprentices Training Scheme is open to engineering graduates and to those who hold a diploma in engineering.
The Centre also trains employees of the ICF, the zonal railways and the railway workshops and production units. The training is of several kinds - induction training, refresher training and promotional training.
Over the years, the centre has transformed itself. Earlier, it was mainly a centre for basic training for workers. It now trains supervisers and officers as well. Moreover, it has acquired a reputation as a major centre for developing welding techniques and skills. This is to be expected because welding is a major activity at the ICF: roughly one kilometre of welding is required in order to build a coach.
In order to develop its capabilities in welding technology the ICF will establish the Advanced Welding Training Institute, at a cost of Rs.6.70 crore. The new Institute will also house testing equipment to issue welder competency certificates. It will cater to the needs of three zonal railways - Southern, South Eastern and South Western Railways.V. Sridhar