The key to high production and efficiency is automation. But did you know automation can also be used to optimize training in manufacturing? Many companies have seen success automating their training programs, but that doesn’t mean “set it and forget it.” Rather, using automation for training can enable continuous learning, where important safety and knowledge concepts get reinforced every shift, every day, to every worker, for a greater impact.
“Plug and Play” Schedules and Learning Plans
Automating training begins with some groundwork. Implementing a structure and schedule that makes sense for your organization is critical to success. Taking the time up front to consider processes and practices, based on department, role, or location, saves time later, especially when factoring in employee turnover.
But not all training is one size fits all — different roles require different knowledge. Creating learning plans, or “play lists,” provides a more efficient way to train via role, department, or location. James Hatch, Operations Training Supervisor at Idahoan Foods, finds using learning plans at his plant helpful for new hires.
“As the training supervisor, I can go ahead and map out ‘For this job title, we need this set of courses. For that job title, we need this other training progression,” Hatch said. “And immediately when they come on board, it’s as simple as entering what group they’re in, and they’re automatically assigned all of the courses that they need.”
Instead of having to reinvent the wheel, automated learning plans are ready to go and correspond to the training courseware and the central data platform for reports. Apryl Washington, who works in Human Resources at creative werks, a packaging company, saves time by using learning plans to track training attendance and completion.
“We actually use the learning plan reporting tools to send weekly updates to our supervisors, so then it’s running a check without us having to necessarily start all the way from the beginning and see who’s done it,” Washington said.
Automate Assessment and Reinforcement
Smooth course delivery and automatic training data storage, however, aren’t enough to ensure compliance – to company policy, customer requirements, or government regulations. A big challenge of training is and always will be making sure important concepts are understood well enough to be applied on the floor — 100% of the time. There are several ways to assess training comprehension, and most depend on interactivity. Finding a way to automate this frees up resources that would otherwise manually wrestle this time-consuming responsibility.
E-courseware that relies on automatic “assessment checks” like quizzes every few minutes, are proven to increase comprehension. Group gamification like timed game shows or benchmarking to anonymous peers elevates the effect. Courses that auto-trigger remediation loops upon incorrect answers with new ways to present the same material and prompt follow-up questions also reinforce learning and keep trainees on track. Most importantly actions and answers are recorded for reporting and audits, saving even more time.
Instantly Identify Gaps and Align Resources
Another big benefit of a centralized training platform is the ability to get a birds-eye view of employee training data across sites and locations, especially when managing multiple facilities. When training data is automatically recorded, supervisors can easily see where to focus resources.
“Alchemy allows us to pinpoint exactly where the training gap is and address it without having to sort through however many number of users’ training records we have,” said Washington.
This panoramic view gives supervisors important insights and opens opportunities to correct small problems before they become disasters on the floor. Supervisors can then decide how to address knowledge gaps, with extra training or one-on-one coaching, for example.
Put Coaching Tools on Auto-Pilot
Coaching takes training to the next level, and gives supervisors a direct way to interact with frontline workers on an individual basis. It also takes time. Digital coaching tools, like mobile tablets, can be used on the manufacturing floor to auto-record observations in the central training platform for future reports. A coaching tool also saves the step of having to record the observation later. Additionally, such two-way communication lets workers ask questions, demonstrate behavior, and receive corrective actions (when needed) on the line, which keeps production moving.
John Taylor, Director of Learning & Development at Ventura Foods uses Alchemy’s mobile app Coach to interact one-on-one with his team and ensure correct action. “In the cycle of learning it is kind of that last piece,” he says. “People will attend the training. They’ll take a test indicating there was a transfer of knowledge. And then we’ll use Coach to come along and validate and observe them performing that work.”
These days it’s becoming more common to implement a training platform that automatically records training data. Keeping training records up-to-date and easy to retrieve, especially among larger organizations and amid tightening regulations, is become more and more necessary to stay compliant — not just nice to have.