VOL 18 ISSUE #2
Astec’s training school classes continue to evolve, expand and excite

Service coordinator Troy Norris's enthusiasm is contagious. And with his responsibilities, he needs the energy. As Astec Industries' training school administrator, he is tasked with maintaining the high standards attendees expect of the Astec Advanced Customer School. Whether Troy is laying out the direction of new classes for coming years or discussing improvements and additions for current training sessions, he has to move as quickly as the pace of technology.

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Over the years, the look and focus of the Astec Advanced Customer School has changed to reflect the needs of customers and the demands of the industry. "When we started, we were having training classes in hotels—the Chattanooga Choo Choo, in the train car," Troy noted. "Now we are here [at Astec's training center] and there is a new facility across the street with a full-size Astec Double Barrel® drum and a range of scale models."

In the 1980s, the Astec Advanced Customer School moved to its permanent home on-site. Astec customers spent much of the training sessions in a single meeting room, with breakout classes that expanded throughout the facility. From that small initial footprint, the classes grew in scope, scale, and reputation. Word of the school's benefits spread throughout Astec's customer base, which led to more customers asking for training specific to their needs. "We add new classes all the time," Troy said. And as the needs of customers changed, so too did the facility.

As the classes' popularity increased among customers, the school recognized the need for a bigger learning space to accommodate the influx of new attendees. In 2009, Astec Industries opened its expanded training center. For the first time, trainers and customers were able to work in a hands-on environment, all-in-one dedicated area, providing immediate feedback from instructors and collaboration between attendees. New equipment was moved in to facilitate the increased range of class offerings.

In 2011, the current facilities for the Astec Advanced Customer School took shape. "From where we began to where we are now—with Training Center East and Training Center West—it's amazing to see where the school has come," Troy added. Conveniently located across the street, the new training center is large enough to accommodate a full-size Astec Double Barrel® for hands-on drum classes, as well as scale models of existing plants. The scale models are the same ones carried by Astec to different trade shows around the world.

New for 2014, Astec will be offering two levels of training. Level I will be an enhanced and expanded version of basic training for first-time students. The new Level I training promises to be even more hands-on and include technical training for power houses. Level II, or the "Top Gun Class," is for returning students. Any attendee of prior Astec basic customer schools meets the prerequisite to join Astec's in-depth training on four critical categories: burners, drums, controls, and electrical systems. With a narrowed focus on these four main categories, Astec can delve deeper into critical areas of plant performance and offer more advanced operating and troubleshooting tips.

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