Are you looking for examples of effective technical training in manufacturing? The following is a case study of a successful technical training program I put together to stop a drain of maintenance dollars due to skills gaps for a manufacturer. As an “internal consultant,” my job was to deliver training solutions. I also knew that any training department had to show its worth, and so I decided to use this as a case study with an ROI (return on investment) calculation.
The Maintenance team of a tier 1 automotive supplier was unable to troubleshoot a type of automatic welding machine. These welders were relatively new to the site, (1+ years). The machines caused a bottleneck, and operations were plagued with this hot problem. Typically, after a loss of “excessive downtime” a call was placed to the vendor, who would send a technician and solve it.
The operations team was upset over the continued, frustrating problems. The maintenance team was also frustrated and under pressure. The vendor was in the business of sales and set ups, they did not like coming out for repairs.
The learning and development manager was then approached by the maintenance manager to help with the problem, and after a brief meeting in the hallway, time was set aside for a more in depth needs assessment to confirm there was a training problem.
With the maintenance team and maintenance manager, the L and D manager started with the impacts the business was facing: mainly downtime and calls to the vendor, involving loss of production time and $6,000.00 per visit. Unfortunately, no records were kept for the previous year as to how much loss had occurred. Further questions established what skills and knowledge gaps existed with the mechanics assigned to repair and maintain the welder. They could do some of the basics, but not all, such as setting and adjusting parameters. When something went wrong, they were nearly helpless in identifying and resolving most machine faults. A clear training gap existed. All parties agreed to this, and specific adjustments and faults they could not perform were identified.
Next the L and D manager called the vendor, and laid out the need. For a 6,000 visit, would they teach the basics and effective resolution of faults in order to reduce down time and calls to the vendor for repairs? To the company’s relief, they would; and in addition, they would create a custom class; hands on, with paper and pencil tests and actual faults to resolve on the units. The training occurred with each students passing the tests at 100%, and giving resounding praise for the class and instructor.
The next step was to watch and wait with the help of the Maintenance Manager. He wrote down each breakdown and the time it took to resolve, and making a judgment call as to the severity.
In the Maintenance Manager’s estimation, within 90 days the company averted three calls to the vendor for repairs and additional downtime and crushed parts amounting to an estimated total of 30,000. With the cost of the training at 6,000, we calculated as estimated 400% return on investment over 90 days. All student mechanics stayed in the job at least an additional 4 years, and the welder machines dropped off the list of the hottest site problems within three months of the training.
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