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Notes from a Recent Work Instructions Project Deployment

Trent Hart, Manufacturing System Consultant, InSource Solutions | April 12, 2021
General Blog

“Give the Customer What They Want AND What They Need”

Recently I worked with a customer that requested help building out 20 work instructions, and eight skills for four pieces of equipment using Poka Workforce Engagement Technology, now AVEVA™ Teamwork. The skills, including the work instructions and exams, for the two new production lines would be a model for the plant going forward.

What stood out about the deployment up front was the team that we assembled. Normally when we deploy, we rarely work with the HR Manager, but in this case the HR Manager was the project lead, and he was fantastic to work with. I also worked with the plant’s Training and Development team leader daily and without her we would not have had the success that we did. She had vast knowledge and understanding of how the equipment worked and a deep understanding of the plant’s training needs. The plant manager set the tone for the project as he stated that the training that we developed would be the way we, as a plant, will develop and train our employees going forward. The plant manager also requested that all training would take place on location, i.e. at the workstations/equipment using iPads. Now keep in mind that this plant had been using Poka for about five years, so users were familiar with the environment.

We built out the requested skills for the first eight pieces of equipment in two weeks. The production line was being constructed as we were building out our training material. The team decided that as soon as a workstation/machine was constructed we would write the Work Instructions using the machine vendors to assist. In fact, no vendor could leave the plant before the associated skills and exams were created. This ensured that our development of the training materials included all the important and vital information for all equipment at time of installation. This seemed to be unique. Most plants do not schedule knowledge capture events with vendors before they walk out the door. When the machine vendors leave, often allot of great information goes with them. InSource made the time to meet with all vendors and recorded all of their SOPs, training materials and insights before they left.

After about five days of engaging the client and their vendors it became evident that our work would go beyond the initial request. Once we started working on the third week of the four-week deployment the HR Manager and his local team approached the plant manager and formally requested to extend the scope of work because of the positive feedback they had received building out the first production line. The plant manager agreed and instead of building out the minimum requirement for each line we built out every piece of equipment, and workstation for both production lines, and set up training for every employee on those lines. By the time we had finished our Poka/AVEVA Teamwork build out, nine employees had read all their Work Instructions, been assessed on each phase of their training by their supervisors and had passed their exams to ensure that the training was consumed. These nine employees were now qualified to work on their machine and workstation. Remember, all the training was conducted at the workstation online using an iPad. All their work instructions and exams were at their fingertips.

Finally, the plant manager was so encouraged with our initial results that he asked InSource to train every supervisor and manager on how to use not only the newly created training materials, but also a full review their responsibilities as a manager using the tool. I also taught/coached the team how to review and approve a request for an endorsement with the tool, along with how to manage their teams using the tool.

In the final analysis, the program has exceeded expectations. InSource worked with the project team to re-set the use of the Poka/AVEVA Teamwork tool, set examples for how to use the tool for all employees, and then taught the managers how to audit usage. We operationalized the Poka/AVEVA Teamwork technology to integrate every aspect of the tool into the employees’, supervisors’, and managers’ work processes whether at their workstations, in their offices, or at the equipment for which they were responsible, using iPads and cell phones instead of pens and paper. Even though the initial request for 20 work instructions, and eight skills for four pieces of equipment grew into 131 work instructions and 26 skills that include 26 exams for two new production lines, the entire team agreed that they got exactly what they requested…and what they needed.

The planning, directing, and guidance that InSource provided was seen as the biggest reason for success by the plant manager and his team. Teaching the trainers how to map out their training before starting the training build out was critical. Ensuring that our clients get all they can out of an existing tool is part of the “InSource Way.” And in this case, even though the plant had been using the technology for five years, they were excited to be able to take advantage of existing functionality.

From my vantage point as an external consultant, this is yet another example of where technology alone is not enough. They had the technology but did not fully consider people or process when initially deploying it. By circling back to build the new training materials and incorporating the new work processes and involving the people both on the line and in the office, an established workforce engagement tool finally gained the traction the client desired. The team is now confident that they have the knowledge and tools they need to be successful.

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