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It's a bit of a difficult one really. Yes, there are companies who offer training in how to use their consoles. But being able to use a console does not make one able to do automation.

Automation is such a vast discipline. There is an aspect of console programming. But also aspects of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering, industrial controls, logic, and rigging. Not to mention communication skills, probably the most important of all. It's a very complex job which is frequently underestimated.

Console operation is just one small segment and frankly it is not the best one to start with either. Most entry-level positions will actually focus more on deck tracks and maintenance, with people being introduced to the console by the operator, over time. I think this may be a reason why manufacturer training is not actually all that big a thing.

 

What is it that you're trying to achieve? Do you just want to understand a bit more about it or are you looking to take your career in that direction? Do you need some training on a specific product?

 

If you need training on a specific product you can likely call the manufacturer. Manufacturers will usually offer free training on their products for people using their products; whilst charging for training which is "prospective" (ie for people who might want to use their product in the future). The Kinesys course is quite good as a very entry level course... with some theoretical and some practical. But really to begin working as an automation technician you would need to have much more skills than the course can provide.

Edited by dje
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Thanks for the reply! That's exactly the problem. Pretty much any other area there are large amounts of resources, but struggling with autpmation.

 

I'm a qualified spark, with experience in industrial control and electronics. Hence the looking in to this as a possible career change.

It's difficult because you can't just go to your local theatre to get some experience with it.

 

I'll have a look at the manufacturers you suggest, but I'm hoping to get more technical than programming and pressing go.

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There are exceptions but broadly speaking automation is bought in as a service from the manufacturer / supplier so if you want more insight into designing/maintaining then getting a job with the manufacturers is really your only path to building up technical skills that aren't "programming and pressing go"
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I'm a qualified spark, with experience in industrial control and electronics. Hence the looking in to this as a possible career change.

 

 

That's certainly very interesting, and in my opinion, skills which the industry is largely lacking in.

 

In my experience, most tours don't have people who are all that controls-savvy. Most people can do basic fault finding with a meter and beyond that they're calling the manufacturer for support (IMO this is not cool and devalues the profession).

But of course, it's a valuable thing having somebody on tour (/show/install/etc) who does get it. I've certainly found myself far more employable as a result of being able to play with the back-end as confidently as the front-end.

In reality, the control systems found in stage automation are not actually vastly different to what is used in industrial manufacturing etc.

Are you comfortable with Siemens, Omron, Beckhoff? I'd say these are the main three used in stage engineering. Some of the Americans use Rockwell (Allen Bradley) but you seldom see it here.

I think rather than discussing it here I'll try and drop you a message at some point with some options.

In terms of training courses it's still pretty limited to be honest, but I can certainly give you some ideas of people to get in touch with where your skillset would be valued and possibly in short supply.

 

There are exceptions but broadly speaking automation is bought in as a service from the manufacturer / supplier so if you want more insight into designing/maintaining then getting a job with the manufacturers is really your only path to building up technical skills that aren't "programming and pressing go"

 

Personally I wouldn't really agree with that. Tours tend to have a mixture of leased and owned kit. But actually a lot of automation manufacturers only sell - rather than rent (as is customary with sound/light etc), even for touring; because stocking such a huge variety of options as you'd need to run a hire shop would be so expensive. As a result, having Production Automation Techs who can work with the controls side is valuable to shows with elaborate automation.

 

I've certainly found myself with the covers off on many occasions whilst working for the production rather than for the manufacturer. Ironically the only work I've ever done for a manufacturer was programming. But 'programming' is quite a broad term, there's some distance between banging in target positions and AVDs, vs writing rules, setting up anti-collision etc.

 

Working on the bigger tours and shows - which will tend to service their own equipment rather than relying on the manufacturer (probably because manufacturer support is generally rather expensive) - should provide opportunities to learn some more in-depth skills. With the OP having a background in electrics and industrial controls I would say that they are in a strong place to try and pursue that.

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