March 25, 2016 / best practices, continuous improvement, industry news, LIT, operator training, optimization, strategic planning
It should go without saying that training is critical to the success of your forging operation. However, many shops still lack formal training programs and simply rely on seasoned operators to casually show “newbies” the rope. While this tactic may have worked in the past, the industry’s growing skills gap is changing the way many companies train both new and existing employees.
As described here in a white paper from the LENOX Institute of Technology, skilled production workers are one of the largest workforce segments facing retirement in the near future, which will have an impact on the number of experienced workers. In fact, according to the paper, one of the largest challenges metal-cutting executives will face in the years to come is an unequal balance of talent on the shop floor. This means a strong training program is more critical than ever.
“Most facilities have multiple shifts, which means inexperienced night-shift operators may be running the same machinery as seasoned day-shift operators, causing inconsistencies in quality and productivity,” the white paper explains. “At the same time, seasoned operators may not be familiar with some of the more recent technology advancements in metalworking equipment, blades, and techniques. By instituting regular operator training, managers can level the shop floor talent and add consistency to production procedures.”
While formal training programs are certainly not a novel idea, research shows that historically, manufacturers have invested more in technology than in people. As the workforce landscape shifts, however, so does the focus. Multiple reports, such as this one from Forbes and another from Training Magazine, confirm that people have become a top priority, and companies are investing more in maintaining and training their talent.
As a result, some manufacturers are scratching their old ways of training and building brand new programs, while others are simply improving what they already have in place. In most cases, however, experts believe the real change needs to be in the way companies approach training. Instead of looking at it as a necessary evil, executives should treat it as another opportunity to apply strategy and achieve optimization.
According to an article from small business publication Chron, an effective training strategy can be vital to a company’s success. “Developing a strategy for training gives your company a competitive advantage and helps propel you into the future,” the article explains.
To help forges build an effective training strategy, below are five key steps managers can take, as listed in the Chron article:
- Step 1. Meet with your company leaders and determine your organization’s business strategy and mission statement. Discuss the goals and objectives of your company, including its human resource needs.
- Step 2. Identify training needs by comparing company goals and human resource needs. Discover gaps between company goals and employee development needs.
- Step 3. Develop your training plan to narrow performance gaps. Establish learning objectives for each training program. Identify programs that employees need to attend. Ensure that training is included in all employee evaluations.
- Step 4. Obtain management support and agreement before you implement your plan. Review your plan with your leaders and obtain buy-in for its execution.
- Step 5. Schedule and implement your plan. Identify resources for your training. Select and train instructors, and reserve training facilities.
Even if you manage a small forging operation, some form of formal training program or training strategy should be on your radar. By investing time and resources in building a skilled workforce, you are ultimately investing in your company’s long-term success.
In what ways could you improve your operations training program?