Since the first official EHEDG training courses on hygienic engineering and design started off in 1995, EHEDG Authorised Trainers have educated thousands of professionals on numerous hygienic engineering and design topics. The number of experts that enrol in EHEDG training courses has increased ever since. Worldwide, a grand total of 385 EHEDG training courses have been conducted. How did the EHEDG training and education product portfolio arise and how will it evolve in the future?
Before we invite the new chair Marc Mauermann (who has been a loyal member of the EHEDG Working Group Training and Education since 2010) to share his vision on the future EHEDG training and education activities, let’s first look back with the man who has been incomparably influential in shaping the current EHEDG Training and Education portfolio over the course of the past twenty years.
What did you encounter when you became the first chairman of this working group?
Knuth Lorenzen: “Before I became the chairman of the EHEDG Working Group Training and Education, a number of hygienic engineering and design experts already provided individual training courses that were mainly based on their own knowledge, experience and training materials. I quickly realised that those various individual training schemes differed too much to be usable for other trainers. So I changed the system by centralising the allotment of EHEDG training materials. I convinced EHEDG that all materials should be issued exclusively by EHEDG, based on our own existing guidelines and proposed that we should develop our own modular and ready to use training material so we could select and train our own trainers. It was basically an early step to safeguard the quality and consistency of the emerging EHEDG training and education portfolio.”
How did you do it?
“First, the members of the working group defined a set of standardised operating procedures, based on the most frequently used EHEDG Guideline Documents. I believe we started with EHEDG Guideline Doc. 8 and then moved on to the EHEDG Guidelines for open and closed processing, cleaning, welding and so on. We also extended our network extensively. The initial working group network consisted of 25 experts and we invited the very specialists to contribute to line up the contents of initially 15 main topics. However, this took quite some time, and after a year or two we decided to first develop a basic presentation in a standardised format, based on our existing guidelines, with a small group of people. These expert panels did most of the groundwork that was then completed by external professionals. We also started to work more intensively with the Fraunhofer Institute that initially translated the guideline contents into a presentation fomat to create a framework for each training course module.”
What motivates people to attend EHEDG training courses?
“The launch of the Machinery Directive boosted the number of training requests coming directly from the industry. The Directive stated that all machine surfaces must be efficiently cleanable. To comply to these demands, engineers needed to start incorporating hygienic design guidelines in their designs. By that time, the EHEDG Training and Education portfolio was up and running and we were able to scale up our activities to meet the industry demands. But there was still a lot of work to be done, so in 2010 I asked Marc Mauermann who had previously been involved with our activities due to his work at the Fraunhofer Institut, to become a full member of our working group, to develop more ready to use training materials and to support us by aligning new training modules with our existing portfolio. In 2018, it was time for me to step down as the chair of the working group and I am delighted that Marc took over my position to give direction to the new activities of the EHEDG Working Group Training and Education in the years to come.”
Marc, what are your plans for the upcoming years?
Marc Mauermann: “To continue the good work of this working group, to further align the EHEDG training materials and to make good use of new possibilities to reach more food industry professionals from all over the world. This working group strived to raise knowledge levels with regard to hygienic engineering and design across all supply chains. To do so, we develop and maintain training modules based on the EHEDG Guideline criteria, we develop and maintain quality and process control procedures, we make sure that authorized EHEDG trainers comply with all required qualifications and we assist with training upon request and when available. We will continue to optimise the practical value of the current EHEDG training courses, but we also face the task to develop new training materials based on new guidelines. Ultimately, we have to make sure that all hygienic engineering and design aspects are covered by a manageable number of valuable training courses. That’s where our new EHEDG Training & Education Roadmap comes into play - it provides us with a solid foundation for all of our future activities.”
Can you be more specific? What exactly are you working on right now?
“In general terms, I can share that we are currently developing several new training concepts, like micro learning, to webinars and targeted e-learning modules. That is necessary because training habits are changing. How we learn today is already very different from how we learned ten years ago. We need to adapt to new learning styles that utilise the power of online communication, but we want to do it thoroughly, so we can spread our messages effectively and reach as many professionals worldwide as possible. And in line with this we are also investigating possibilities to create an online EHEDG Academy. The goal is to offer professionals to learn about hygienic engineering and design anywhere and at any time, regardless if they are working for a big multinational or a small local food company.”
How important is it to support educational institutions?
“Very important, because the students of today will bring the changes of tomorrow. We noticed that more and more universities are interested to teach their students about hygienic engineering and design. The emergence of the first university master’s programs in hygienic design shows that this field of expertise is finally recognised as an important scientific area. , Together with the universities, we find new ways to optimise our support. Last but not least, the collaboration with GFSI may open up new possibilities to train the auditors. You see, we are currently still searching for the best ways to make good use of all the new possibilities. Our experts and training materials are ready, available and up-to-date, but we need to figure out the best ways to distribute EHEDG expertise via the different channels. Training courses where people can meet and learn in real life will always stay in demand, but we want to enrich the current courses with online modules to further enhance the value of the EHEDG training and education portfolio.”
So what’s next?
“We have to think of business models to make this approach economically feasible, but I am sure we can work out something here. I think the interest in these courses proves that, on top of a basic understanding of hygienic engineering and design issues, food safety professionals are always looking for specific answers for specific problems, so the practicality of EHEDG courses should always be our first concern. Expert knowledge is important of course, but it only has a real life value when it’s correctly implemented on the working floor so it can improve food safety for everyone.”
Thank you both!