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Manufacturing Training Programs That Work In China

    Manufacturing Training Programs

    There are basically two types of training programs.

    1. Classroom training programs

    This is appropriate for introducing new concepts – things the staff currently doesn’t know. Think “what would they fail if they were given a test?”.

    Here are a few examples:

    • Production operators: basic safety considerations (e.g. fire hazard in a wood furniture factory, along with a few related golden rules)
    • Line leaders: responding to quality issues (e.g. explanation of the procedure to follow when a red bin is half full, what to check, when to escalate the issue, etc.)
    • Quality control staff: what each main customer considers a defect.

    How to test if someone should be re-trained in this way? You can prepare a test. If they fail, there is a deficiency here. If not, the issue might be different…  

    2. On-the-job manufacturing training programs

    This is a combination of work and training, for building those skills the staff should “know how to do”, not just “know what it is”.

    Again, a few examples will illustrate this:

    • A new sewing worker might work on a sewing machine off the line for a few days, until a line leader sees that her work is consistent. At which point the new worker can integrate a line and do the simplest operation. After a few months, the new worker might try her hand at another, more complex, operation. And so on. So far the best examples of on-the-job training I have observed were in cut & sew factories.
    • A new inspector can start to check products, all of which are re-checked by an experienced inspector. The defects that were caught in the second station are shown and explained to the new employee.

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    How to help the worker acquire new skills?

    By coaching them. A more experienced employee, or the direct supervisor, can play this role.

    How to test if someone should be re-trained?

    By observing her work.

    What if an employee “knows what it is”, “knows how to do”, and still makes mistakes?

    This is outside the scope of this article, but here are two pointers:

    • The issues come from the process or the system, not from the people.
    • She might be unmotivated. You might need to work on staff engagement. (Actually this is related to the second point… look at your management systems.)

    What do you think are the most common source of mistakes in your factory? Are process issues and staff disengagement really at the root of 80%+ of problems?

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