5S + Safety = Lean 6S Safety

5S Safety 6S Lean Image

You’ve probably heard of 5S. If so, you know it’s a method for organizing a work area to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing waste. And it’s one of the first steps that many companies make while trying to become “lean.”

If you didn’t know that before, now you do.

5S can help make a company lean, but it also can improve safety and health at the company. It makes sense, because a more organized, tidier workplace is going to have fewer hazards. For example, if your housekeeping is better, you’ll have fewer tripping hazards. And if you’ve organized the workplace so tools and machines are placed more appropriately, your workers will have fewer ergonomic risks.

Even though 5S comes with “built-in” safety benefits, that’s not the end of the story. Over time, people have modified 5S by adding a new “S” to create 6S systems. One of the most common of the 6S systems results from adding Safety to 5S. This is sometimes called 5S+, 6S, lean 6S, 6S safety, or lean 6S safety.

In this article, we’ll learn more about 5S and/or 6S and how you can use it to create a more organized, efficient, productive, and safe workplace. To learn even more, check out our series of 5S online training courses and lean manufacturing training courses.

And at the very bottom of this article, you can download a free 5S infographic–nice! 

(more…)

Read More

How to Identify and Close Skill Gaps at Work

identifying-and-closing-the-skill-gap-blogConsider this scenario, if you will.

You’re a training manager. Or maybe you’re someone else who is involved in training–the head of operations, or in HR, or the safety manager.

You or someone else at work determines there’s a performance problem. More specifically, you think your employees may have a skill gap.

What’s the answer? Create and lead some training? Well, maybe. But maybe not.

It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that training’s the answer for everything. But there’s nothing worse than creating a training program for a problem that the training can’t solve. You’ve now spent a bunch of money and time creating and delivering the training, and you’ve still got the problem to boot.

The best way to avoid this scenario is to take a step back and analyze the performance problem first. If you learn more about the problem, you can then figure out what the best solution for it is. Maybe it WILL be training, but maybe it will be something else.

(more…)

Read More

Chunking Manufacturing Training: How to Help Your Employees Learn

Chunking Manufacturing Training Image
We just wrote an extended blog post that explains the benefits of “chunking” your training materials and gives tips of how to do it. Click hereto read the extended article on chunking for training.

Otherwise, if you’d like a high-level overview and then would like to see an example of chunking applied to manufacturing training, read on.

The Bird’s Eye View on Chunking Training Materials

  1. Chunking refers to taking training material (during the design phase), breaking them up into little “bite-sized” parts, and then organizing them in a way that makes the material easier for your employees to learn.
  2. Chunking is helpful because of how our brains work-in particular, the limits on our working memory to hold only about four bits of information at a time.
  3. Although learners who are novices or experts in a given topic can each only remember about four chunks at a time, experts can remember bigger chunks.
  4. You should arrange chunks within training materials in a way that makes it easier for your employees to understand and remember them. Some organizational methods include job sequence, dependent learning, cause and effect, and whole to parts, but there are more.
  5. Chunking training materials begins at a high level–the entire curriculum, for example–and then works its way down through modules, lessons, courses, and screens (or similar sub-divisions of your training materials).

(more…)

Read More

Improve Troubleshooting Skills with Process Training

Training to Troubleshoot Image
We work with lots of companies who are continually trying to improve the efficiency of their workers, machines, and work processes. This is critical to them because they need to create more product and spend less doing it. Overseas competition has made this need even more pressing, especially since labor costs are often significantly less for companies operating in other nations.

As a result, our customers want to help their workers become more knowledgeable, skilled, capable, and efficient. One customer in particular summed up what many different customers have told me when he said “I want to help my machine operators become machine engineers.” (If you’re out there, Steve, hello–hope you’re doing well.)

When he said he wants his employees to become “machine engineers,” one of the things he means is that he wants his employees to be able to recognize and troubleshoot production problems to keep machinery operating at peak efficiency. But how can a company help their employees improve their troubleshooting skills? One way is through process training. That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

A related article looks at the development of troubleshooting and problem-solving skills, and how to how employees acquire those skills, in even more depth and detail. Don’t forget to check that one out too.

(more…)

Read More

How to Develop Technical Training (Tips from Dr. Ruth Colvin Clark)

developing technical training book imageWe help a lot of our customers develop technical training for their workers–primarily for jobs in manufacturing and industry.

And in addition, we also lead a lot of technical training to teach customers to use one or more of our learning management systems.

And so we wanted to check out this book by the very well-known and highly credible Dr. Ruth Colvin Clark: Developing Technical Training: A Structured Approach for Developing Classroom and Computer-Based Instructional Materials.

We like her books for many reasons, but two of the most important are that they tend to be comprehensive and they are backed with research to determine if training techniques are effective or not.

We recommend you read this book if you’re interested in developing some technical training materials. But, if you’d like to get an idea of what the book’s about, we’ve written an overview below.

(more…)

Read More

Closing the Skills Gap with Structured On-The-Job Training (OJT)

closing-the-skills-gapI spend a lot of time working with new customers in the manufacturing sector who are just beginning to use our Convergence learning management system (LMS) at their workplace as they try to close a skill gap at work.

At many of these businesses, a large part of the workforce is older and nearing retirement. These older workers are very experienced and have a lot of knowledge about the processes, procedures, and machines in their workplace. Unfortunately, that information is typically just “in their heads” — it’s rarely written down, documented, or recorded in any way.

As these more experienced workers retire, the manufacturing companies are scrambling to hire newer, younger workers to take their place. These workers are ambitious and work hard, but they know only a fraction of the stuff they need to know to operate as effectively as the more experienced workers they’ll need to replace soon.

Naturally, our customers want to facilitate the transfer of critical knowledge and skills to these new workers. Ideally, they can get the new hires up to speed quickly, and they can capture that critical knowledge before the more experienced workers retire.

(more…)

Read More

OJT and the Training Needs Analysis

Before you begin any OJT program, you should perform a training needs analysis. Actually, that’s true no matter what kind of training you’re considering. But what is a training needs analysis, and why should you do one? Glad you asked, because that’s what we’re about to explain.

Before we begin, let’s cover some basics. First, you’ll sometimes hear this called a training needs analysis, and other times you’ll hear this called a training needs assessment. They’re basically the same thing, or at least have similar steps intended to lead to the same result.

Second, know that this “analysis” or “assessment” comes before you begin creating training materials (perhaps by using the traditional ADDIE instructional design model or a similar method for creating training materials).

And finally, note that there are entire books written about performing a training needs analysis. We’ve given only a quick-and-dirty, brief overview below. This should get you headed in the right direction and in many cases may be all you need. But watch our blog for further posts with more details, and check the links at the bottom of this post for even more helpful information.

(more…)

Read More

Improving Employee Productivity With More Informed Management: Dan Ariely’s “The Upside of Irrationality”

Daniel Ariely Upside of Irrationality Image

Dan Ariely has one PhD in cognitive psychology and another in business administration. He’s the James. B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He’s also got appointments at the Fuqua School for Business, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Department of Economics, and the School of Medicine. In short, if you’re interested in improving the performance at your work place, he’s a good guy to listen to.

And that’s why we’re interested in Ariely and other writers like him (such as Daniel Kahneman). We’re a training company, but we’re the first to admit that training isn’t the solution for every issue at the workforce, and that you can get workers to improve their performance in ways other than providing training. Ariely’s insights into how people think and how those thoughts affect their choices and behaviors can be applied directly to workforce performance improvement.

If that sounds intriguing to you, we’ve got a little summary for you below, and then we encourage you to buy the book and check out Dan Ariely’s website. We also have some articles dealing with behavioral economics related to Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow and thoughts on innovation from the folks behind Freakonomics.

(more…)

Read More

Six Tips for Better On-the-Job Training (OJT)

tips for better on the job training (ojt) image

On-the-job training programs, also known as OJT, have a long history in manufacturing. And many times, they’re quite effective. However, if they’re not well-designed, the results can be less impressive.

What’s the story at your workplace? Are you struggling to get better results from your on-the-job training (OJT) programs?

If so, here are some quick tips to keep in mind. Use the Comments section below to add your own or ask some questions, too.

(more…)

Read More

Tips for Great On-the-Job Training (OJT) Programs

OJT Training Tips

Almost every workplace does some form of on-the-job training (OJT). In many cases, especially at companies in manufacturing or industrial industries, a good deal of that OJT training occurs when an inexperienced worker follows a more experienced worker around on the job. This is often called “shadowing” or “following.”

The results from OJT training involving shadowing can be mixed at best. In some cases, job knowledge is transferred effectively, and the less-experienced worker ends up being able to perform all of the necessary job tasks. In other cases, though, things don’t go so well, and workers are left without the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to succeed at their jobs.

Obviously, companies can’t afford to have OJT programs that don’t effectively train their employees. Plus, it puts the employee being trained in an unnecessarily difficult spot. But what can be done?

Below are some tips to get your OJT programs headed in the right direction. They’re not the full story, but they’ll get you moving forward and making progress.

(more…)

Read More