Maintenance Training in Manufacturing Industries
Published on : Thursday 11-11-2021
Time and money spent on a training need assessment will help you get the most out of the limited training rupees available, says Suresh Babu Chigurupalli.
In the era of disruption, Maintenance has become more sophisticated and more technical. Maintenance needs more than adequate training to achieve the business objectives of the organisation. Training became a necessity for maintenance specialists. The maintenance person had to learn the inter-relationships of all the equipment within the process.
Ensuring that training fulfils the company’s requirements is critical to success. That training is needed is usually self-evident. But what kind of training, in which areas, and how much training are questions not easily answered. That’s what ‘needs assessments’ are about.
Making a start
The first step in a needs assessment is identifying the problem and determining if training will answer. Many companies expect training to be the “silver bullet.” But in most cases, it is the only partial solution to the problem, which is the lack of an organised and disciplined maintenance process. As management looks at all of these aspects of their maintenance organisation, they need to find the answers to some basic questions:
1. Will training resolve my problem?
2. How much money will I save by implementing this training program?
3. How much will the training cost?
4. Is there a payback on this training?
Some hints at the answers to these questions can be found in a study funded by the Department of Education with the Bureau of Census, the US, to determine how training impacts productivity. Some of the eye-opening results were:
1. Increasing an individual’s educational level by 10% increases productivity by 8.6%
2. Increasing an individual’s work hours by 10% increases productivity by 6.0%, and
3. Increasing capital stock by 10% increases productivity by 3.2%.
Training alone is not sufficient. The development and implementation of a maintenance skills training program must be part of a well-developed strategy. Skill increases that are not appropriately utilised will result in no changes. Once an individual is trained in a skill, he must be provided with the time and tools to perform this skill and must be held accountable for his actions.
Will training solve my problem?
Research says that 70% of equipment failures are self-induced, i.e., equipment failures caused by the introduction of human error. Not all self-induced equipment failures are maintenance-related. Some will be induced by operator error. Others originate by being bumped by vehicles or other equipment, etc.
Work orders are the best source of information to determine self-induced equipment failures. We must identify the true cause of the failures through random sampling the work orders of equipment breakdowns over a three-month period. The question to be answered: Was lack of skill the problem (self-induced failures)?
If lack of skill was the major problem, then you can easily estimate the losses due to lack of skills. First, add together the cost of production losses, the cost of maintenance labour, and the cost of repair parts. Then multiply this sum by the percentage of maintenance labour hours attributable to emergency (self-induced) breakdown work orders. The final figure will be a rough indication of what your plant skills deficit is costing you.
Performing the skills assessment
The skill level of the maintenance personnel in most companies is well below what the industry would say is acceptable. A survey result assessed the skill level of thousands of maintenance personnel and found that 80% of the people assessed scored less than 50% of where they need to be in the basic technical skills to perform their jobs. A maintenance skills assessment is a valuable tool in determining the strengths and weaknesses of a given group of employees in order to design a high-impact training program that targets those documented needs. The skills assessment should be based on critical skills.
Maintenance personnel have often found it difficult to upgrade their technical skills because much that is available is redundant or does not take their current skill level into consideration. The assessment is designed to eliminate those problems by facilitating the construction of customised training paths for either individual of the group based upon demonstrated existing knowledge and skills. When the assessment is used in conjunction with a job task analysis, a gap analysis can be performed to determine both what skills are needed in order to perform the job effectively and what skills the workforce presently has. All training must be based on a job task analysis.
You must then fill the gaps with training that is performance based. This analysis detail identifies the exact task needed in each skill area so that all training is developed based on the actual job requirements. The gap analysis also ensures that training is EEOC compliant. Each skill area in a skills assessment should have three components:
a. Written: identifies the knowledge required for a specific skill. Theories, principles, fundamentals, vocabulary, and calculation should be among the skills tested.
b. Identification: assesses knowledge in specific skill areas. Employees are asked to name components and explain their uses in this oral assessment.
c. Performance: assesses the critical skills required. To analyse this aspect, employees carry out typical maintenance tasks in accordance with generally accepted work standards.
The written assessment may be proctored by the plant’s own personnel. But the identification and performance portions of the skills assessment should be performed by certified assessors from an outside agency or a local technical school. This practice ensures that the assessor does not have preconceived notions about what someone knows. Here’s an example of why this precaution is important: During an assessment at a steel mill, the maintenance manager pointed to one of his employees and said, “See that man; he is the dumbest mechanic I have.” The results proved otherwise. Out of 250 mechanics, he was rated as the fifth most skilled. The resulting assessment data should be analysed and compiled into a series of reports that depict scores in three ways:
a. Company summary, showing a composite of all personnel tested
b. Subject results, showing the scores of all personnel tested by subject area, and
c. Individual test results, showing scores of all personnel test by person.
The results should be shared with company management as well as with the individuals tested. The assessment report becomes a benchmark study on the status of your existing maintenance workforce and is useful as the tool against which to measure progress or as the profile against which to hire new employees in order to find out the department.
After completion of the assessment process, you can begin work to establish performance standards for each employee or for the group to develop a training plan to address the identified needs, develop a curriculum to meet those training goals, or deliver training in the targeted skills.
Increasing pressure to improve productivity and reduce costs is forcing organisations to search for innovative solutions. Targeted training is both effective and efficient, regardless of whether the goal is to design a full apprentice-to-journeyman program or just identify skills for high-impact brushing up. Time and money spent on a training need assessment will help you get the most out of the limited training rupees available by helping identify the training opportunities allowing money to be allocated effectively.
The first part of this article, Maintenance Management in Manufacturing Industries, had appeared in October 2021 Digital Edition:
Sureshbabu Chigurupalli is on the Board of Directors/Operations & Maintenance/Keynote Speaker/Lean Practitioner/Production Management/TPM Practitioner with 26+ years of experience. He is Director (Operations) at Balasore Alloys Limited, Balasore, Odisha. He did his B.Tech.in Instrumentation from Andhra University (1994). He is an enterprising leader & planner with a strong record of contributions in streamlining operations, invigorating businesses, heightening productivity, systems & procedures.
Sureshbabu has achievement-driven professional experience in spearheading entire unit/ plant operations to maintain continuity and match organisational goals through supervising Operations, Quality Control, Production Goals, Automation, Maintenance, Process Improvements, Safety Guidelines, Manpower Development, New Policy/Procedure Guidelines, Resource Allocation and Cost Optimisations. He is leading and managing all plant operations with effective utilisation of all resources and implementing industry best practices such as TPM, Six Sigma, Lean Management & others Business Excellence initiatives that contribute to improve productivity and efficiency. He has exhibited leadership in closely collaborating with numerous Japanese Consultants for implementing TPM to enhance overall plant effectiveness.