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Training Within Industry Provides a Strong Foundation for a Lean culture.

[+] Author Notes

Sam Wagner is responsible for the identification and implementation of advanced technologies and process improvements at Donnelly Custom Manufacturing. He has been involved with implementation of information technologies. Lean Manufacturing techniques (including TWI). quality systems. and automation. The company's Web site is www.donnmfg.com.

Mechanical Engineering 131(02), 28-33 (Feb 01, 2009) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2009-FEB-2

This paper focuses on Training within Industry (TWI) that provides a strong foundation for a lean culture. Many manufacturing companies incorporate Lean Manufacturing initiatives to streamline their business procedures. One of the best known is Kaizen, the Japanese word for “continuous improvement.” It is based on short term, focused projects to eliminate waste and improve processes. When integrated into a work environment, TWI can produce sustainable improvements in your operations, creating a strong foundation that can keep your business productive and vital even during today’s challenging economic climate. TWI consists of three key teachings: job instruction, job methods, and job relations. The TWI process provides employees with an opportunity to become certified trainers in each of the three teachings. TWI can teach an entire organization to look at challenges not as problems, but as opportunities for innovation. This tool of the Lean Manufacturing toolbox can serve as the foundation your organization needs to stay competitive and vital for years to come.

As any good engineer knows, the key to building a quality product . starts with its foundation. This is especially true in manufacturing. A solid base of processes, procedures, and training needs to act as the foundation for quality and process improvement. Otherwise, organizations may find themselves dealing with an inconsistent work environment that undermines everything from production to customer relationships.

Many l'nanufacturing companies incorporate Lean Manufacturing initiatives to streamline their business procedures. One of the best known is Kaizen, the Japanese word for "continuous improvement." It is based on short-term, focused projects to eliminate waste and improve processes. Unfortunately, the quick satisfaction of a successful Kaizen can overshadow some of the more long-term and less "flashy" concepts that serve to sustain and continuously improve a company's lean culture.

One of the least known and most underappreciated of these lean concepts is Training Within Industry, or TWI. When integrated into a work environment, Training Within Industry can produce sustainable improvements in your operations, creating a strong foundation that can keep your business productive and vital even during today's challenging economic climate.

Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Co. uses techniques pioneered during WWII and perfected by Toyota to help workers improve their productivity.

The U.s. government created TWI to support the World War II production effort, specifically the training of millions of people hired to replace workers who had entered the Army. The program originally sought to help supervisors quickly and efficiently train workers to manufacture tanks, planes, and other military equipment. Many consider TWI an important factor in the success of the United States in outproducing ourenemies.

After World War II, the Japanese used TWI to help rebuild their country's manufacturing base. Many Japanese companies, including Toyota Motor Co., adopted lean and TWI processes and still use many of these approaches today.

Now the process is working in reverse. Many U.S. manufacturers have adopted Toyota's Lean Manufacturing best practices, yet they have only recently rediscovered TWI as a terrific way to train employees to seek ways to improve the workplace. TWI's teachings have enabled many companies to create a lean culture that is effective and lasting.

Sam Wagner leads a job methods class, where supervisors learn to improve work processes by breaking them down to their simplest components and questioning each detail.

Brad Andrist of Donnelly teaches a job instruction class. Supervisors learn how to train and coach workers to do jobs safely while remaining productive.

Grahic Jump LocationSam Wagner leads a job methods class, where supervisors learn to improve work processes by breaking them down to their simplest components and questioning each detail.Brad Andrist of Donnelly teaches a job instruction class. Supervisors learn how to train and coach workers to do jobs safely while remaining productive.

For companies frustrated with traditional training methods, Training Within Industry is an effective alternative that goes beyond the classroqm. Nor is TWI's value exclusive to the manufacturing industry. Other organizations, including hospitals and government agencies, have turned to TWI as a way to help improve training and sustain business improvements. In fact, any organization that relies on processes and has people who directly manage the work of others can benefit from TWI.

Brad Andrist of Donnelly teaches a job instruction class. Supervisors learn how to train and coach workers to do jobs safely while remaining productive.

Grahic Jump LocationBrad Andrist of Donnelly teaches a job instruction class. Supervisors learn how to train and coach workers to do jobs safely while remaining productive.

The success of any company's lean journey relies on the willingness of the workforce to embrace change and adopt lean principles. Training Within Industry makes it easier to attain the much-desired goal of getting everyone to do their jobs correctly and efficiently.

At Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Co. in Alexandria, Minn., we have long recognized the value of proper workforce training as a key component of our success in short-run injection molding. Yet we found that traditional training methods took too long and employees didn't always retain enough of what they learned. TWI fit well with the company's commitment to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. In addition, it improved quality and increased productivity by encouraging employees to engage more fully in their work.

TWI consists of three key teachings: job instruction, job methods, and job relations. The TWI process provides employees with an opportunity to become certified trainers in each of the three teachings. Having certified trainers in leadership roles encourages other employees to learn from their peers and to share their knowledge with others.

Donnelly installed this sprue picker to automate scrap handling. By using job instruction methods, the company reduced the time needed to train workers in its use from several days to 30 minutes.

Grahic Jump LocationDonnelly installed this sprue picker to automate scrap handling. By using job instruction methods, the company reduced the time needed to train workers in its use from several days to 30 minutes.

It is also imperative that front-line supervisors support Training Within Industry. Because they spend a majority of their workday interacting with team members, their buy-in gives TWI a better chance of becoming a permanent part of company culture.

Job instruction teaches supervisors how to train employees to perform their jobs the right way, with a high level of safety, quality, and productivity. Supervisors learn how to break down a job to its basic components, focusing only on the most important steps, key points, and purpose behind each procedure. This method simplifies the training process, making it much easier for employees to learn and retain information.

The method is especially beneficial for training new employees, who are often overwhelmed by job-related information in a new position. It is very common for new hires to leave a training course unprepared to do their jobs, leading to poor workmanship, frustration, and employee turnover.

Trainees are required to demonstrate an understanding of job tasks by actually performing them in front of the trainer. This allows the trainer to observe and coach as needed until the trainee completes the task correctly with no assistance.

Job instruction can improve existing training protocols as well. A case in point involves robotic sprue pickers, which Donnelly uses for some production runs to grab the plastic and runner system and either dispose of it or deposit it in a grinder for recycling and reuse.

The irony was that the sprue pickers should have decreased production time and made the job easier for the operator. Instead, it was taking days to train workers to use them. To prove the value of using pickers, Donnelly turned to job instruction methodology to help improve training methods. By breaking down the important elements of the job, the team was able to train workers better than before in only 30 minutes. In addition, the team created a reminder sheet that highlighted key elements of the job for operators to review.

Due to the success of this training, Donnelly decided to invest in additional robotic sprue pickers. The operators are seeing improvements in productivity and quality as a result.

The four-step job methods process breaks down a job to its simplest terms, questions every detail to find possible improvements, develops new methods, and then applies those methods to test their effectiveness.

The key to the job methods process is to identify a problem and solve it through creative thinking. The methodology encourages employees to share their ideas, and teaches how to implement them. When employees see that their company not only considers, but actually implements their ideas, they feel Fhey're making a significant contribution. This makes them stake holders in the company's growth and overall success.

Job methods is not always about buying the latest technology to improve productivity. Sometimes, the process uncovers other low-cost solutions.

Donnelly, for instance, faced a safety challenge. Operators found it difficult to hook up molds for production runs without climbing on the presses. Because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires fall protection for any climbs over 4 feet, Donnelly asked suppliers for possible solutions. Some of their suggestions- such as elaborate harness systems and platforms with railings-were costly and would actually increase the time needed to perform the task.

Before making a purchasing decision, the management team asked the operators for their ideas. Incorporating job methods teachings, they looked at why they needed to climb on the presses in the first place. As a result, they saw that they could avoid this problem by strategically placing four small ladders around the equipment. The short ladders not only saved the company thousands of dollars, but also improved operator safety on the production floor.

The job relations phase ofTWI teaches supervisors how to evaluate a situation and take appropriate actions to prevent and resolve employee problems.

When workplace conflicts arise, some people avoid confrontation and hope the problem will go away. At other times, a person may jump to conclusions without having all the facts and end up making poor decisions that erode employee morale.

The objective of job relations is to strengthen employee relationships by addressing and resolving problems before things get out of hand. The job relations methodology helps employees settle problems fairly and quickly through healthy communication.

During job relations training, employees use realworld challenges as classroom examples to see how the methodology can aid them. This gives trainees immediate feedback on how the process can help them resolve issues. When employees see the power of the methodology, they are more likely to use it on the job long after their training is complete. This, in turn, helps strengthen workplace relationships, support good morale, and improve the overall work environment.

Once TWI becomes part of a company's culture, employees see things differently. Because they are invested in the company's success, workers share a commitment to continuous improvement. This shows up in all aspects of the company's operations.

Take the decision to bring in new technology, for example. In most companies, this is left up to engineering or management. More often than not, the operators who will use the new equipment are not included in the decisionmaking process, even though it will affect their jobs.

Donnelly ensured operator input by using elements of job methods to select a new material blender that would shorten changeover times by reducing cleaning time. The company decided to bring in a few different blenders and have the operators work with each one. Surprisingly, the operators did not select the blender the company's managers initially favored. Instead, operator tests and critiques enabled the company to make a more informed purchasing decision. The result: The new blender slashed cleanup time from 50 minutes to 20.

By continuously improving processes so products and services exceed customer expectations, your company can consistently deliver value and solutions to your customers.

TWI gives companies a way to reach across all areas of their organizations to achieve continuous improvement and maintain high customer satisfaction. Training Within Industry opens new possibilities for improvement and encourages employees never to be satisfied with just "good." There's always room for improvement, and the TWI teachings help uncover and seize those opportunities.

Since 2005, Donnelly has used Training Within Industry to implement hundreds of improvements that have led to significant reductions in production time and costs. Our employees have responded positively to the TWI proce'ss and have accepted it as an effective way of handling many work challenges. We have also shared our TWI best practices with our suppliers and customers, who have achieved success of their own in applying these teachings.

TWI can teach an entire organization to look at challenges not as problems, but as opportunities for innovation. This unsung hero of the Lean Manufacturing toolbox can serve as the foundation your organization needs to stay competitive and vital for years to come.

When Donnelly wanted to shorten changeover time. it asked the opinion of its workers. They chose a darkhorse candidate that slashed cleanup time by more than half.

Grahic Jump LocationWhen Donnelly wanted to shorten changeover time. it asked the opinion of its workers. They chose a darkhorse candidate that slashed cleanup time by more than half.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME
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