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By: Sylvie Couture
December 27, 2019
The ability to share knowledge with speed and efficiency is a quintessential part of succeeding in the manufacturing industry. For most companies, the greatest knowledge transfer comes through training as it plays a pivotal role in the entrance of a new employee within an organization. But despite its high importance, manufacturing training is often perceived as a burden by the existing workforce.
While new hires are eager to learn and soak up all the knowledge they can, veteran employees are reluctant to put in the many hours required for training and re-training, only to have the employee leave.
Coupled with the relentless turnover in the manufacturing sector, training new employees is a major challenge. Another roadblock comes in the form of creating an infrastructure to monitor each operator’s competencies and keep track of the need for additional training.
It is hard to think about manufacturing training without picturing thousands of standard operating procedures and other documentation printed on paper.
And the results of all of these piles of paperwork? A massive headache that is best left untouched in dozens of filing cabinets.
This is where the efficiency of the VKS software comes to the rescue. Along with guiding operators through production processes, you can use VKS as a training tool to:
Work instructions created using our software serve as a continual guide and training tool that are enhanceable with diverse multimedia items. These help lead operators through each minute detail of the operation.
When used for training purposes, guidebooks can be opened in the “preview” mode. This setting allows operators to run through the step-by-step instructions without affecting the production data and affecting the KPIs.
Creating operating instructions that act as both a training and a production work guide is also more straightforward than you might think. By enabling the expert mode, users can choose to skip informational steps aimed towards new users and only view the most crucial steps to the production instead.
How It’s Implemented:
When creating new digital work instructions, whether in Lite, Pro, or Enterprise, authors are encouraged to add as many reference items as possible. This includes reference images, call-outs, videos, pictograms, and any other indication that makes the work instructions more precise.
To distinguish between the steps for new and experienced employees, authors can flag certain steps as being “Expert” steps. These steps should be the ones that are essential to the task at hand. When experienced operators with the Expert status open the guidebook, they have the option to set the viewing mode to ”Expert”, allowing them to skip steps that are non-essential to the operation.
Example: Creating Dual-Purpose Work Instructions
You create a guidebook that is meant to be used as manufacturing training material and production work within the consumer goods industry. You start by making the steps that are essential to the item’s production and tag them all as Expert steps. You enhance these steps by adding the corresponding tool’s instructions in the attachments so they are available to all on-demand.
You also use pictograms to indicate the safety measures that must be followed on this step. You then add new video steps, that are not expert steps, and that demonstrate the actions that are to be performed. Since these steps are not tagged as Expert, experienced users are able to skip them easily, while new users can use them as a reference for what needs to be done.
Using forms and rules from VKS Pro, it is possible for advanced VKS authors to create classic quiz-style training guides for safety training or tool manipulation procedures. The data for these would also still be available in the reports section.
How It’s Implemented:
To create a training quiz-style guidebook requires the use of specific forms and rules. An author constructs steps in multiple parts that display the information they want the operator to learn. After each “section”, the author adds a form that contains questions for the operator.
In the form’s rule section, the author programs the user’s response to trigger specific actions. While a correct answer allows the user to move forward and proceed with the training, a false answer pauses the progression until the correct answer is chosen.
Example #1: Chemical Manipulation Training Quiz
Your organization wants to create a quiz-style training on the safety procedures regarding the manipulation of certain chemicals found on the shop floor.
You start by creating a multi-step guidebook that is planned in sections. At the end of each section is a form that presents the operator with a question, and a series of radio buttons representing potential answers.
You then use the form rule engine to trigger different actions according to the user’s response. If the user selects the correct answer, they will be able to proceed to the next section. If the incorrect answer is selected, a pop-up message is programmed to appear informing the user that their reply was incorrect.
The user is then sent back to the step containing the information needed to answer the question properly. The next time the operator arrives on the step, they should have the correct answer. Once the operator has completed the training, the data associated with the guidebook can be found in the reports.
Example #2: Monitoring the Need for Extra Training
When it comes to training, your company’s biggest challenge is that your experienced operators have their own way of doing their job and subsequently, their own ways of teaching how to do it.
To counteract this lack of control on the shop floor, you decide to standardize training to reduce new employee on-boarding. Using the VKS software, you implement a training quiz to teach new employees how to build your product in the same way each and every time. With the quizzes, you can test and monitor each employee’s knowledge of the process and provide additional training as a result.
In fact, using VKS to create training quizzes is just one of the ways Gerber Gear solved 4 challenges in their assembly process and distribution centers.
Using Certification Groups, you can regroup and manage all the operators who have, or require, a specific certification. This feature also allows you to limit access to the work instructions, ensuring that only members with an active certification can access them.
How It’s Implemented:
Certification groups are created at the organization level. Each group represents a specific certification required by your organization. Once the group has been created, each user in the group is assigned a certificate that indicates the start date and end dates of their certification. These dates can be edited at all times by the group manager.
This group can then be used as a requirement to access the work instruction file, effectively restricting access to other inactive members of that group.
Example #1: Certificate with An Expiration Date
You have a guidebook that requires operators to work with a chemical solvent. For safety reasons, you want everyone working with this product to follow a yearly refresher training on how to deal with chemical spills and administering the appropriate first-aid.
You create a Chemical Training certification group and add all the operators who are set to be working with the product. You set each qualified operator’s certification to expire after a year. You then create the work instructions and add the Chemical Training group to the list of authorized groups. This prevents users who are not part of the group from using the guide.
Example #2: Certificate Without an Expiration Date
You need work instructions for automotive welding and it is company policy that only operators who have completed their Structural Welding Certification Test can operate the required tools. You then create the group SWC Certification.
In this case, the group would include all operators who have completed that certification, but there would be no set expiration date. You then add the SWC Certification group to the list of authorized groups. This prevents users who are not part of the group from using the work instructions.
The “Training Required” feature is a pop-up alert that signals to operators that a modification has been added to the latest version of the step-by-step work instructions. To proceed, the operator requires a supervisor’s authorization to continue. This authorization attests that they are qualified to complete this version of the operating instructions.
How It’s Implemented:
The “Training Required” feature is added by the author at the moment when the guidebook version is created.
Training requirements can be added for all first-time users of work instruction guides. It can also be added to subsequent revisions.
Example: Training Requirement for an Updated Guidebook
Your company is upgrading from using a torque wrench to using ToolConnect IoT for assembly, but this tool’s safety feature doesn’t work the same way as the previous one did.
While updating the job instructions, you add a training requirement notification when the new tool is used. When the operator opens work order, a message appears that a supervisor needs to first certify that they are properly trained to work with the new tool.
No matter which features you chose to use or integrate into your process, the important part is to choose a sustainable method that organically fits into your organization’s culture. When your training efficiency increases, your workforce becomes more knowledgeable and comfortable with their tasks. This leads to a decrease in defects and errors, as well as to an increase in efficiency and work-place satisfaction.
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