Advice and best practices for writing SOPs, training for product launch, outsourcing technical documentation, and more.

The Challenge of Training Foreign Operators While Maintaining Production

manufacturing-training.jpgNovatek is currently working with a number of manufacturing clients that are struggling to get new operators up to speed quickly. The scenarios vary from offshoring to operators that don’t speak English as a first language to moving a manufacturing plant across the country. However, in every scenario the client concerns are the same.

How do we afford to train others when training time cuts manufacturing output by 50%?

How do we enable new operators to be self-sufficient so they’re successful when us veterans are no longer available to them?
How do we avoid losing the process knowledge before the experts leave? 

Unfortunately these are not uncommon problems in today’s world. While there are lots of stories about reshoring, many manufacturers still find it necessary to produce goods abroad. Today, increasing U.S. electricity costs, regulatory burdens, and the need to serve growing foreign markets are additional factors beyond strictly lower labor costs influencing the early offshoring decisions.

Additionally, in the U.S. manufacturing industry, baby boomers hold 40% of jobs and 56% of leadership positions. Yet, 100,000 baby boomers reach retirement age each day. The risk of losing valuable expertise and on-the-job process knowledge is real.

3 Training Techniques to Prevent New Operator Failure

1. Video Tutorials

Job shadowing and hands-on training are often the most popular forms of training when it comes to manufacturing operations. This approach enables trainees to observe, ask questions, and eventually perform under supervision as they learn. However, when English is not the first language of the trainees, understanding can be compromised. Creating video tutorials allows trainees to observe without the distraction or struggle of trying to communicate. Video tutorials also provide ideal angles for viewing, the ability to re-watch for further understanding, and the option for native language subtitles or audio.

2. Virtual Simulation

When current production is hindered by training or there is a lag between initial training and go-live, creating a virtual simulation of the environment provides trainees with the chance to practice before getting behind the wheel. Virtual simulation is a training technique that mimics the real environment in an interactive and immersive way. It develops operators’ knowledge, skills, and habits, while eliminating unnecessary risks. Then once production begins, this same simulation can be used for refresher training in the months to come.

3. Standard Operating Procedures

Most manufacturing facilities are familiar with standard operating procedures (SOPs) from a quality management perspective. However, quite often not all processes are documented. Ensuring a complete set of procedures that are thorough, up-to-date, and not laden with hand-written post-it notes, is important for clear understanding. Providing an effective set of SOPs provides new operators with a resource to answer their questions, which is especially important when production cannot be slowed or veteran operators are no longer available.

For more insights on effective training...

Download our free tip sheet:

Tips for Improving Training ROI

Improving Training ROI

Topics: controlling cost, training solutions