Training a Skilled Workforce
Thank you to our partners at WEB-CAB for sharing this article with Planit Canada.
Small businesses are finding that hiring, training, and retaining productive employees to be a challenge. Although an ongoing problem, current restrictions due to the pandemic have made this increasingly challenging.
First, a few questions:
Do you have a formal training program for new employees?
Is there documentation for all the critical tasks throughout your operation?
When there are product modifications or specials, how are workers informed so that the items are built correctly?
Are you using high-skilled workers to do low-skill jobs?
When a worker has a question about order details, does he head for the office?
Small companies typically lack training programs, instead relying on existing employees to train new ones. Your best employees have accumulated what is referred to as “tribal knowledge”. When new employees are hired, they must learn from the experienced employees. This means that your best employees take time from their jobs to train others, at the expense of production.
For a new employee, even simple things are a mystery such as…
Where does this part go next for processing?
Do I have all the parts for this assembly?
This one is special, but what is different from the standard cabinet?
These and many other similar questions probably occur on a regular basis, even if management is unaware – and aren’t only asked by new employees.
What management does know, is that production is slower than it should be. What is causing all the wasted time and how do we improve? We have a great facility and the best machinery, but our workers often make mistakes and are constantly asking questions.
It’s common to hear business owners complaining that skilled employees are too difficult to find. And, even highly skilled new employees were trained in another shop, which uses different machines and processes.
SOUNDS GRIM, BUT THERE IS A SOLUTION: A MANUFACTURING EXECUTION SYSTEMS (MES)
MES addresses each one of the issues described above.
Shops equipped with a properly configured MES system have stations located at key points throughout the manufacturing process. Each station can not only track work, but also inform the employee on the work to perform. New employees are trained more quickly because it is unnecessary to memorize product and process details.
Scan a part and the MES tells the employee everything he needs to know; what it is, where it goes next, which bin to put it in, and so on.
MES can guide production by informing your employees each step of the way, all based in the engineering data that you already spent so much time and money producing. This results in a smoother running shop, with much less contact between employees.
Original text by Mick Peters, Automated Application Technologies, for web-cab.com.