Best Practices for Training in the Modern Manufacturing WorldUnderstanding training methods to keep manufacturing employees up-to-date with modern processes, tooling and methodologies for a more efficiently run operation
When it comes to employee training, most manufacturers have several format/delivery methods from which to choose to help develop employee knowledge and skills:
- Self-paced online learning, available 24/7
- Instructor-led training (ILT), also called Face-to-Face (f2f), for in-person, in-class training
- Virtual instructor-led training (VILT), also called remote, virtual classroom or virtual online training.
- Blended learning that incorporates some or all above methods
- Hybrid classroom, which combines ILT and VILT at the same time
While these formats and delivery methods vary, successful manufacturing training programs ultimately are all around balancing the subject matter with the needs of the participants and your company’s organizational characteristics and goals.
There’s nothing like instructor-led training to keep subjects and classes engaging and interesting. ILT gives audiences direct access to the subject matter expert and provides vibrant classroom interaction for students. Distractions are kept to a minimum, while providing a stimulating learning environment, including the possibility for practical hands-on exercises. It is important, however, to ensure the instructor has a solid command of the subject matter.
One potential drawback to traditional classroom ILT however, is the issue of personal attendance: Naturally, employees can’t work and be trained at the same time. This involves downtime and lost opportunity, and there may be travel costs associated with attendance as well. During the pandemic ILT transitioned to VILT in many cases.
VILT is not a new learning format; however, its acceptance as a favorable training method has only recently started to gain traction. The challenges imposed by the pandemic accelerated the development of VILT platforms and technology. Now VILT is significantly more than a well-worn presentation over a bad laptop camera.
The use of break-out sessions, shared whiteboards, real-time polls and other tools maintain learner interaction. Careful lecture planning and pacing prevent screen fatigue during class. Virtual classrooms minimize travel and its expense while enabling global companies to send workers from different countries to the same class, which supports team building, mutual understanding and collaboration.
Online manufacturing training programs continue to grow in popularity, primarily due to their almost universal accessibility. Online education is available 24/7 from anywhere – assuming internet access – and is generally self-paced, allowing students to repeat lessons when necessary. The economics of establishing online training is generally very favorable, and for global companies, they can be presented in multiple languages. On the downside, online training generally requires more student discipline, especially for longer classes. Modern on-demand courses may also provide coaching or community interaction for better learning and engagement.
Bringing together the best elements of teacher-led training and online learning into the blended learning format has become a leader in best practices for manufacturing training. Online material that includes quizzes and self-assessments followed by a day of virtual classroom and/or practical hands-on training keep students engaged, motivated and active while keeping costs to a minimum.
Regarded as probably the most difficult of the various manufacturing training programs to manage, hybrid classrooms are essentially instructor-led training sessions with a part of the class attending remotely. In this scenario, instructors are challenged by attempting to hold the attention of a live audience and remotely connected attendees simultaneously. Interaction tends to be choppy and uneven, and there is a tremendous load placed on the technical components of the classroom, which can jeopardize the training. However, the hybrid class has its place, especially when getting training accomplished is a must.
To maximize the benefit of training for manufacturing employees, it’s important to keep the following issues in mind.
- Who, why and what? – These basic questions are intimately related. Determine who needs training, why they need it and what will be the intended outcome.
- Timing – Schedule training in time slots that do not interfere with your production plans.
- Speak the same language – Train in the local language whenever possible. Not everyone is fluent in a universal language, and training in an employee’s native tongue shows respect, breaks barriers and relieves stress.
- Incentivize – Package and present training so employees see an ultimate positive payoff that rewards them for their time and effort.
- Create a culture – Over and above merely establishing training for manufacturing employees and establishing best practices for manufacturing training, create a culture of learning and career enhancement that starts at the management level.
Another way to develop your own programs that meet best practices for manufacturing training is by leveraging existing expertise. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. With years of global manufacturing experience, Seco has a vast amount of resources along with subject matter experts that can provide individual, classroom and online training on a variety of topics. Discover our courses to master operational and machining excellence.
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