Have your staff returned from an automation training course and felt that it was a waste of time and of little value to the company?


Irrelevant, poorly designed courses leave employees feeling frustrated and managers no better off in terms of the team’s skills.

Taking the time to build a business case for training will save your company time and money, ensuring a measurable return to the bottom line.

 

We outline four reasons below

 

1. More relevant training courses

Ad hoc or generic training won’t cover skills gaps now and in the future. A planned approach to training will ensure that courses are better designed, more useful, and deliver the right skills to the right people.

 

A skills audit should be conducted before any thought of a training course selection. This will uncover any skills the team and organisation needs to deliver work today, tomorrow  and well into the future.   

 

Once completed, you can decide on your key training goals and relevant modes of delivery that will plug the team's skills gaps.

 

Skills audits have the additional benefit of benchmarking the organisation’s skills to industry standards.

 

2. Visible Return on Investment (ROI)

Beginning with the end in mind achieves better results. Setting desired outcomes from the outset means that your training can be measured against these goals.

 

For example, one measurable goal for PLC training could be to reduce Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) systems by 50 percent over six months. In goal setting, ensure you implement systems to collect baseline data so you can track the impact of skill training at a later date.  

 

There are a number of ways to measure the impact of training such as:

    • Efficiency measures (uptime, yield, reliability)
    • Employee engagement (retention, sick days, internal promotions)
    • Continuous improvement
    • Maintenance costs (fixed and variable maintenance costs)
    • Repair times (mean time to repair) and
    • Customer satisfaction (delivery in full and on time, feedback).

Don’t be afraid to go back and evaluate the impact of past training programs based on desired outcomes. This will help you make choices based on past successes and failures.

Being able to prove the ROI from training will increase chances of future training initiatives being endorsed.


3. Get more employee engagement

A strategic approach to automation training will involve multiple discussions with your team members. If you’re proactive, you may have already begun skills development talks at performance reviews and team meetings. 

You will get more employee buy-in for training opportunities when you relate it back to the organisational strategy and how it will boost the employees’ marketable skills. They’ll engage more with the content if they see it as part of their own development and as having a greater impact on production.

 

Training: it’s a two way street

Many companies make the mistake of approaching training as if it’s their sole responsibility. Training and learning is a shared responsibility between employee and employer. Employees must continuously grow in their roles; after all, no manager hires someone expecting their skills to remain stagnant.



4. Find on-the-job training opportunities


Training and learning opportunities are everywhere. By thinking strategically about your training needs, you will ensure these opportunities are not missed.


A training needs analysis can help you identify where ‘free’ learning can occur. For example, the best learning opportunities for staff can often be found in project work, a new piece of equipment, or process being implemented. ‘Embedded training’ like this not only saves the company thousands of dollars, but also allows for practical uptake of skills.

 

In addition, using peers or supervisors to train other staff can be beneficial. Peer-to-peer training is centred on teamwork and practical learning. In this setting, the trainer’s own learning is reinforced and the content is often more job-specific.

 

Alternatively, there may be a real business driver to increase the skills of maintenance staffs in PLC fault finding. Given the age of PLC equipment in place and skill level among staff, a customised automation training course may be more suitable. Here, bringing everyone up to the same standard and then encouraging staff to share their knowledge with each other will help increase skill retention.  
 

How to identify training opportunities on the plant floor

A manufacturing manager's proactive approach got key staff trained on a new production line and automation system - all before it went 'live'...


Industrial printer, PrimePress, was implementing a new production line and automation system to handle multiple coloured dyes. An external systems integrator was managing the project under the Manufacturing Manager, Michael Coat. In past projects, he would leave all aspects of the project, from design to implementation, up to the integrator. However, with his new knowledge of training, he realised that he could use this project to upskill key production staff, rather than hold a formal training session after it was operational.

Michael identified a number of project milestones that could be utilised as learning opportunities for both his machine operators and machine maintenance staff. He chose to include them in the installation and factory acceptance testing stages, and the system integrator was happy to include them; to learn, observe and take part. The integrator even included a component of automation mentoring for a senior machine operator. In addition, Michael had these individuals train smaller groups of staff on what they knew. Now it is a matter of following up on each individual's skills.

Michael drew from his supplier knowledge and peer-to-peer training to ensure that his team had the right skills to deal with a new production system. He was able to leverage a scheduled project to provide on-the-job training, which allowed him to save on foundational skills development costs, to free up project budget to be spennt on more advanced training programs such as Advanced or intermediate PLC or SCADA training.

 

Find out how our ability to customise our training courses for PLC systems helped provide 'invaluable, industry-derived training' to the Royal Australian Navy. 

Read about how we trained the Royal Australian Navy in PLC