Lean Manufacturing Word Game


On the way to work today, I heard a story on NPR about manufacturing in America. During the story, a manager at a textiles plant mentioned that manufacturers are always trying to get “more lean.”

He may have meant “lean” generically, to mean more efficient. Or maybe he was specifically referring to lean manufacturing, the philosophy with roots based in Training Within Industry (TWI), Japanese manufacturing, and the Toyota Production System (TPS).

A lot of our customers have an interest in lean manufacturing (with this more specific meaning). In fact, not that long ago we ran a popular post about how to introduce your workers to lean manufacturing. And so we decided we’d use this story on NPR as an excuse to create a fun, interactive word game with some of the most common terms used in lean manufacturing.

This is meant as a quick (and fun) introduction to some terms in lean. Please use the comments section at the bottom if there are other terms you think we should add. We may at some point recreate this word game, including more terms, or possibly make additional lean-related word games.

Oh, and hey–please note you can play this word game for free from our blog anytime you want, or you can download your own free copy and put it into your SCORM-compliant learning management system (LMS). Read the additional notes below if you’re interested in that second option.

 

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Onboarding New Manufacturing Workers

Manufacturing-onboardingIf you’re a manager, you know it’s important to deliver onboarding training to new hires. And that’s also true if an experienced worker is moving to a new site, work area, or into a new role as well.

But you also probably know that delivering onboarding comes with a number of challenges. It’s hard to have time available every time a new worker is hired, and that doesn’t even account for having time every time someone moves from Site A to Site B, or from Production to Warehouse, or from Forklift Operator to Machine Tender.

Plus you’ve got to create, buy, or otherwise collect all the training materials.

And of course you’ve got to actually KNOW that a new employee has been hired, or that someone has been transferred from the Tulsa site to your site in Wichita, or from Line One to Line Two. And let’s faced it–we may all like to say that communications where we work are perfect, and that we’re all informed of events like these, but I’m pretty sure you’d quickly agree that’s not always the case.

So, in a nutshell, there are lots of reasons why it’s difficult to provide onboarding training in a manufacturing environment.

That’s where an online system that includes a learning management system (LMS) can pay dividends. You can think of an LMS as an automated assistant that can coordinate all this stuff for you. Kind of a manufacturing onboarding auto-pilot system.

So if you’re in the market for an LMS, and want to be able to use it for onboarding new employees (plus your other training needs), we’ll give you an idea of some of the features you should be looking for.

NOTE: This article will focus on providing training as part of an onboarding process at a manufacturing company. For a fuller discussion of onboarding as a whole, please see our companion article Onboarding New Employees: Why and How to Do It.
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Helping Workers Develop Problem-Solving Skills: How to Do It Well and Do It Quickly

fishboneWork is easier when everything goes perfectly and there are no problems.

But as you probably know, “perfect” is a rare state. Problems pop up from time to time and workers need to solve them.

As a result, it’s important that workers be effective problem solvers. Having a workforce with well-developed problem-solving skills is a significant competitive advantage for a company.

Obviously, that’s true with your maintenance workers. But those aren’t the only workers who benefit from strong problem-solving skills. For example, we have a customer who led a training system upgrade for a major, multi-site manufacturing company in the United States (they make common household products and odds are very good you’ve used their products). He would often tell me that he wanted to “help his machine operators become machine engineers.” (Hello to you, Steve, if you happen to be reading this.)

What our customer Steve meant by that was, at least in part, that he wanted workers to have problem-solving skills so they could address problems on their own at work to decrease downtime, increase efficiency, and maximize production.

But those problem-solving skills don’t come “built-in” to every person. And even those with a natural knack for it can always get better, or learn to apply those skills more effectively in a given work circumstance. And as a result, it’s a good idea to provide resources to help workers develop and use problem-solving skills at work. That’s what this article will focus on.
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What Is Lean? Introducing Employees to Lean Manufacturing

leanSo you’re thinking of adopting lean manufacturing at your workplace, huh?

But what will you tell employees and managers? How will you explain lean to them?

In this article, we’ve got some ideas, suggestions, and tools for you to use. We think these can help you introduce lean to rank and file employees and managers. Then you can go on to get into these ideas in more detail and to introduce more ideas over time.

But that doesn’t mean we’ve got the perfect list. So if you’ve been through this before, feel free to share your own ideas and thoughts. That’s what the comments section is for at the bottom of this article.

You’ll also notice we included the names and links to a few classic lean books. Again, feel free to recommend some of your own faves in the comments section.

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Helping Workers Acquire Basic Job Skills and Perform Standard Procedures

pyramid-basic

In every job, there’s a set of basic skills and simple procedures that a worker filling that job has to learn to perform.

For an organization to perform at peak efficiency, it’s important that the workers in each job role know how to perform each of these skills and procedures.

But how does a company go about teaching those basic skills and procedures? And how does the company know if the workers can perform those procedures? That’s what we’re going to look at in this article.
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Training that Helps Employees Learn Basic Job Knowledge

pyramidAs a producer of learning management systems (LMSs) that are designed to let you to use a variety of different training delivery methods in a blended learning solution, we give a lot of thought to how employers can create the “best” blend.

Actually, we don’t think there’s any one simple answer to that question that you can apply every time. There are various ways to look at it, and each make sense in different circumstances.

However, one idea that we’re big fans of when creating a blended learning solution is to select the training delivery method (example–e-learning, written, video, field-based OJT, instructor-led classroom training, etc.) by considering the type of training material (the information) that you’re trying to convey, and/or the employee’s need for practice and feedback during training.

We’ve introduced that method of creating a blended learning solution in an earlier article. In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at one aspect of the blend–training that’s designed to help employees acquire base-level, foundational knowledge that doesn’t require a lot of practice or feedback.

In an earlier article, we looked at using scenario-based training during training to help workers develop advanced job skills that may require a lot of practice of feedback.
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New Manufacturing Training Courses Available: Operator Basic Care; Lubrication Basics

Here are the new courses we added to our Manufacturing Training Library last month.

You can also just check all of the titles in our following libraries:

We’ll keep announcing new courses each month as they roll out, so stay tuned for more.

You can watch samples of the new courses below, or contact us to set up a demo and view full-length previews.

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Blended Learning for Manufacturing Training

blended-learning-for-manufacuring-trainingYou can’t train a manufacturing workforce using just one “type” of training–just field-based OJT, just written materials, just instructor-led classroom-style training, just e-learning, etc.

Well, you can. But you won’t get the most effective training, and you won’t create a cost-effective training program. So you don’t want to.

Instead, it’s best to use a “blended learning” solution that mixes and matches different types of training.

In this article, we’ll give a few reasons why you should consider a blended learning solution for your workers; give you some tips for creating the right blend to help workers acquire basic knowledge, develop skills and learn procedures, and develop advanced job skills that really create value for your company; and show you some tools and techniques for making this all happen smoothly.
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Training Manufacturing Workers for Next Job in Line of Progression

training-manufacturing-workers-for-next-job-inline-of-progressionAt many manufacturing companies, employees enter the workforce in a role reserved for new hires, then work their way through an organized line of progression from their first job to the next job and so on throughout their careers.

As a result, it’s helpful to have a plan in place, and some tools to use, to help train workers at each position and better prepare them for success at each new job.

In this post, we’ll give some tips and introduce some tools you can use to improve the line of progression training at your facility and make administering it more efficient.

By the time you’re done reading, you should have enough information to help you deliver (a) more effective training to your employees in each job position, (b) at a lower cost, and all while (c) spending less time administering the training. And you’ll be better prepared to move new employees from one position to the next in their line of progression, and as a bonus you’ll find some tools to help you cross-train employees so they can fill multiple job roles if necessary.

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Using Scenario-based Learning for Job Training

using-scenario-based-learning-for-manufacturing-trainingIf you read current literature on training, one of the things you’ll read about a lot is scenario-based learning. This goes by other names, too, including immersive learning and problem-based learning. For this article, we’re going to stick with scenario-based learning.

No matter what you call it, there’s a reason why people talk about it a lot. Because it’s an effective way to learn. Within the context of job training, scenario-based learning has a couple big advantages. These include:

  • Making compliance training more active, fun, engaging, and effective
  • Reducing the amount of time it takes for an employee to develop expertise in his or her job (moving employee  from basic, foundational job knowledge and skills to advanced skills that create value for the company)
  • Providing a safe learning environment in which employees can practice and learn from mistakes without harming themselves, machines, or business goals

This article will at least touch on all three of those points. But we’re going to focus on how scenario-based learning can reduce the amount of time it takes for an employee to develop advanced job skills and become an expert in his or her field. Typically, employees become experts simply through years of on-the-job experience. For example, our customers in the paper manufacturing industry tell us it commonly takes as much as 20 years for an employee to develop the job expertise necessary to operate a paper machine. And since many of those current job experts are nearing retirement, there’s a need to train a new generation and get them up to speed much more quickly than in 20 years. And that’s where scenario-based learning can really help any workplace.

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The Past, Present, and Future of Manufacturing Training

past-present-future-of-manufacturing-trainingTraining within manufacturing organizations has undergone a lot of changes over time, and there are plenty more changes coming.

In fact, even if you’re not aware of it, changes are happening right now. And the infrastructure that will lead to even more changes is coming soon.

If this seems interesting to you–and if you’re in manufacturing training, it should, because it directly affects your present and future realities–you may find the quick overview below of interest.

This is also a great post for including your own thoughts at the bottom, since so much of the future is speculative. Please share your own experiences and thoughts and let us learn from you.

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