Via the newly formed Potain Academy, the brand is leveraging the remarkable expertise of its trainers and renowned “flying doctors” to deliver both face-to-face and digital trainings that empower local teams to enhance their skills and drive greater efficiency for customers.
At the heart of the Potain brand lies an unwavering commitment to training and technical excellence. For decades, Potain has been a beacon of crane industry knowledge, offering comprehensive instruction in tower crane erection, commissioning, maintenance, and operation. Each year, more than 1,000 individuals pass through the doors of its primary training facility in Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, near Lyon, France. However, this figure represents only a fraction of the total number of training sessions conducted, as many occur at customers’ own sites.
Among these field training sessions lies Potain’s esteemed “flying doctors” — highly skilled technicians who are dispatched to customer sites worldwide to solve complex troubleshooting, maintenance, or repair issues. Their presence attracts local Potain and dealer staff members, eager to observe and learn from these doctors’ extensive experiences.
Learning from experts
Potain made the strategic decision to transition the “flying doctors” from the service team to the training organization, rebranded as the Potain Academy. This transition was conducted to formalize these experts’ equipped knowledge and allow easy access to their invaluable expertise amongst the global network of Potain employees and dealers.
Cedric Fourier, global manager for Potain tower technical training, has led technical projects for Manitowoc since 2004 and joined the Potain Academy team in April 2022. He said:
“The ‘flying doctors’ are not constantly on missions, so we seized the opportunity to harness their brilliance in developing and delivering training materials. This means that our trainers are not merely trainers; they are Potain’s elite experts — the best of the best. They are known all over the world and those who participate in our training sessions are very happy to have the chance to meet them and learn from their vast technical knowledge and experience.”
Government recognized qualifications
Potain’s expertise commands respect within the crane industry, but it doesn’t stop there. The brand has developed an official driving training program, validated by the French government, resulting in the provision of tower crane driving licenses that adhere strictly to established standards and norms. These licenses cater to both in-house crane operators at major construction firms and those engaged in project-based assignments through agencies.
Now, the Potain Academy is developing a new training program officially endorsed by the French government, aimed at formally recognizing the profession of tower crane erectors. This move will shed light on their critical role in the industry and attract fresh talent to an arena where locating premier candidates has traditionally been a challenge.
Smarter, faster progress
Another significant stride for the Potain Academy is the introduction of e-learning. Several months ago, the organization embarked on a journey to develop and roll out training content through its new digital platform. So far, there are approximately 15 e-learning modules available on the platform in up to five languages, including English, French, German, Italian, and in some instances, Portuguese and Spanish.
“We’re still in the early stages. As our catalog of e-learning grows, our hope is that it will become a go-to resource and a clear reference point for all. When we have a rich library of tutorials and videos, people will automatically turn to us for solutions to their challenges,” Fourier said.
The adoption of e-learning serves a two-fold purpose: speed and efficiency. With an array of Potain product launches on the horizon, not every topic requires in-person training. Many can be conveniently covered online in just 10-15 minutes, saving both the time and need for extensive travel. This approach also allows participants to arrive at face-to-face courses with the basics already mastered, enabling a deeper focus on practical experiences — the very essence of effective hands-on training.
The Potain training centers are more than mere classrooms. They have simulators, training benches, and a lineup of six fully functional tower cranes at Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu in France. These provide participants with invaluable hands-on practice during the onsite training, while the preliminary online training helps learners make the most of the training center facilities when they arrive.
Empowering local teams
“Ultimately, the main goal of our training is to empower local teams, helping them to build the skills and know-how they need to become self-sufficient. We want them to be able to handle crane erection, commissioning, and troubleshooting independently, without having to rely on a manufacturer specialist for assistance, except for the trickiest jobs,” Fourier concluded. “This shift allows us and our dedicated network of distributors to provide outstanding technical expertise that our customers associate with Potain, in a faster and more efficient manner. I’m really excited about the journey we’re on with the Potain Academy and can’t wait to see where it takes us.”