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A member of my family recently purchased a new car with all the bells and whistles.  This car came with a navigation system, internet access, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.  Learning all the technology was overwhelming.  But, what my family member forgot was that the primary purpose of the vehicle was to drive him from Point A to Point B.  As you can imagine there were a few near misses as he learned how to handle all the technology right at his fingertips.

Learning new systems or technology can be challenging, especially if the person isn’t particularly tech savvy.  As the individual focuses on learning the newly installed systems, he may lose focus on other important tasks such as safety or product quality.  Understanding and planning for this loss of focus is important as new technology is introduced to your operators. This may require a reduction of throughput during the initial learning curve or possibly staffing additional operators so throughput and/or quality aren’t compromised.

As you develop your training plan, make sure to incorporate as many senses as possible including auditory, visual and kinesthetic.  Everyone learns a little differently and incorporating different senses can increase the speed at which an operator learns the necessary information. Never don’t underestimate the importance of hands-on learning.

When you train your employees on the new systems, keep an eye out for the operators who appear to be struggling.  If you are picking up on it, then their peers probably are as well and this can result in anxiety and a reduction of focus by the struggling employee(s).  Consider some contingency plans for these employees where they can get additional training without being scrutinized by their peers.

Technology can be an asset to a manufacturing plant, but, make sure that you incorporate the necessary operator training systems so you can realize all the benefits without a negative impact to operator safety or product quality.

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