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Most manufacturers will admit that they don’t do a good job training their employees.  It isn’t that they don’t see the value, it is rather that the task feels overwhelming and they don’t know where to start.  But, like any other journey worth taking, it starts with a single step.  Listed below are some steps you can take to improve your operator training program.

  1. Pick a Starting Point. What is the area that is causing you the biggest issue? Is there a department with high turnover?  How about high scrap?  Is there a bottle neck in your plant that shouldn’t be there?
  1. Assess the Situation. What are the tasks that need to be performed in a particular department? What are the skills needed in order to complete those tasks?
  1. Develop the materials. Review the established procedures against the current process and if a discrepancy is found, decide which should be included. Once that is complete, ensure the procedures are up to date. In addition to procedures, other training materials which may be of use include videos, standard work or visual aids.
  1. Quantify the skill levels. For each of the tasks, quantify the skill level and determine how the skill level will be measured. The skill level should range from Untrained to Fully Trained, with various levels in between. Using the defined skill levels, assess each employee against each of the tasks.
  1. Complete the skills matrix. Once each operator has been measured against each task, the skills matrix can be completed. And from the completed matrix, the gaps for the department have been identified and an action plan can be developed to address those gaps.

I would agree that implementing or improving an operator training system may seem daunting, but, having a process which results in fully trained operators makes the journey much easier to start.

For more practical tips for manufacturing professionals to attract, train and retain your hourly workforce, go to