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Manufacturing companies face unique challenges in designing and delivering training programs that will have real-world impacts on their processes, quality, and productivity. With over 591,720 manufacturing plants in the world, industries aren’t stopping anytime soon to slow down production. Don’t worry if you’re wondering how to create a manufacturing training program that can work at scale. We’ll take a look at how you can roll out a program that meets your organization’s needs and how to better manage it as well.

tms for employee development programs

What is a Manufacturing Training Program? 

A manufacturing training program is a structured initiative designed to educate trainees on specific skills and competencies related to operating specific machinery or to understand the processes involved in manufacturing. Naturally, the structure and content of manufacturing training will vary by organization, based on the organization’s products and processes. However, these programs will typically contain some or all of the following: 

  • Onboarding: Getting new employees up to speed quickly and introducing them to how the organization works will allow them to immediately start contributing. Onboarding will sometimes start before the new employees’ first day, also known as “pre-onboarding.” 
  • Safety protocols: Manufacturing employees need a good knowledge of safety procedures (Lockout, Tagout), hazard awareness, and using personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly to keep themselves and their colleagues safe at all times. 
  • Competency and technical skills: Training programs often provide hands-on training for using machinery, tools, and equipment commonly used in manufacturing processes, ensuring that everyone has the practical skills to complete their work to a high standard. 
  • Compliance: Manufacturing companies need to comply with a range of different regulations and standards. Programs may cover topics related to industry-specific regulations, environmental policies and procedures, and ethical practices such as sexual harassment. 
  • Quality control: Developing employees’ knowledge and skills around quality assurance and control methods is important for maintaining product standards. This may include how to properly inspect products, identify defects, and implement quality improvement processes. 

The goal of these programs is to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to be effective and productive in various roles within the manufacturing sector, such as machine operators, assemblers, quality control technicians, and more. 

Almost every industry that you can think of is highly dependent on the manufacturing sector to make sure they receive the products they need to keep business afloat. With a global economy not slowing down for anyone, it’s no surprise both local governments and universities are investing in their manufacturing training programs.

What are the Benefits of Having a Manufacturing Training Program? 

Within a company’s supply chain, implementing one or several manufacturing training programs is an integral part of the business’s learning operations. By providing them, companies will be able to ensure their employees are knowledgeable about the safety, productivity, and efficiency applied when undergoing training.

Training and development can often be overlooked in the manufacturing industry, with training being seen as a box-ticking exercise to provide employees with basic skills and fulfill legal obligations. However, well-thought-out training should do so much more for your business and employees. 

Organizations in all sectors require training and development, but manufacturing employees face a unique set of challenges. Recent research from McKinsey highlighted a few important points that highlight the benefits of effective manufacturing training: 

  • Manufacturing companies need to balance productivity with increasing demands for energy efficiency from governments 
  • As new technologies evolve, improvements can be made in terms of productivity and safety (especially important when heavy or dangerous machinery is being used) 
  • Lean methods are essential for reducing waste across the manufacturing supply chain 

Fundamentally, manufacturing employees need to know what to do,  how to do it safely, and what their role is for the wider manufacturing. While setting a baseline of skills and knowledge is one reason to have a training program for manufacturing employees, an effective program will have a range of other impacts. 

New technologies in manufacturing will incentivize training

Seamless onboarding 

In any manufacturing company, new employees will have a lot to learn in their first few weeks and months. This is a crucial time for ensuring that your employees are supported and equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed in the role. A smooth onboarding process results in effective employees who have the skills to complete work to a high standard and respond to problems autonomously, while also knowing how to escalate and find support when they need it. 

Achieving safety and compliance objectives 

Manufacturing training can help an organization achieve safety and compliance objectives by instilling a safety-conscious mindset in its employees, developing necessary skills, ensuring adherence to industry- or company-specific regulations, and creating an environment where employees actively contribute to maintaining a safe and compliant workplace. Well-trained employees will have a strong understanding of best-practice procedures, and be equipped to identify potential hazards and prevent accidents. 

Improved quality assurance 

Effective manufacturing training should also improve quality assurance outcomes by facilitating your employees to understand and follow standardized processes, proactively spot and prevent defects, and actively seek to improve processes to ensure the production of high-quality products. 

Employee engagement and retention 

Providing robust training demonstrates that the company is invested in its employees’ growth and development. This can boost job satisfaction and engagement, which in turn helps to reduce turnover and improve employee retention, as it’s well documented that happy employees who feel valued by their employer are significantly more likely to stay with a company longer term. 

Setting employee goals 

Developing talent internally is vital for any successful business, so your training program can also be used to set and monitor employees’ goals and professional development. There may be multiple career paths through your organization, and different employees will want to progress in different ways. While some may want to work towards positions of leadership, others may want to hone their technical skills or obtain professional qualifications. By incorporating goal-setting behaviors into your program you can ensure that employees are completing training that gets them where they want to go. 

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Planning, Developing, and Launching a Manufacturing Training Program 

Developing and rolling out a training program is a challenge for any organization, but manufacturing companies who aren’t experienced with learning and development may find the process overwhelming. To ensure that your problem is a success and provides measurable business outcomes, you will need to carefully plan your program based on the needs of the company and your employees. 

As a first step, you should work with your L&D and HR departments or perhaps a contracted training company to complete a training needs analysis (TNA), which will allow you to identify any significant gaps in knowledge or areas where productivity could be improved with additional training. You’ll want to take a complete view of your business before deciding to roll out a training program and look at the following areas: 

  • Financial analysis and reporting on productivity for your different products and processes 
  • Qualitative feedback from clients, managers, and employees, and workplace observations 
  • Manager-reported competence across teams 
  • How long do different tasks and processes take to complete 
  • Reporting on workplace-related incidents 
  • Reporting on issues with quality control 
  • Analyzing competitor output 
  • Which of your business goals you’re failing to achieve, and why 
  • The future direction of your business and any associated goals 

Considering each of these points will enable you to articulate exactly what it is you’re hoping to achieve with your training program, and how it will help your company to succeed. It’s important to set out these aims as measurable, quantifiable goals. For example, you could do this by taking a baseline measurement of knowledge or productivity, and then comparing the results before and after training. Alternatively, you could set a goal of having X% of your employees attain a specific certification that will help them in their role.  

Essentially, you need to have a clear idea of what outcomes you expect the training to deliver for the company and your employees. Through this process, you should be able to identify where additional training will have the biggest impact, whether that’s for specific processes, principles, departments, or skills.  

Let’s consider an example: based on reports from managers and workspace observations, you’ve identified that only a handful of team members are confident using a particular machine, which is causing a bottleneck and limiting productivity. This would be a great place to introduce additional technical training to upskill the rest of the team to use the machine with confidence. 

Once you’ve decided which content you want to focus on, you need to consider how best to deliver the relevant skills and knowledge to your employees. It’s important to note that manufacturing training programs aren’t “one size fits all.” Different manufacturing companies with varying requirements will take different approaches to training, depending on what’s best for their learners. Your training program could include any combination of:

Therefore, it’s important to think about how your employees learn best and ensure that your approach caters to a diverse audience of employees in various manufacturing roles. 

When you launch a new manufacturing training program, it’s important to verify that it’s having a positive impact on your organization – otherwise, you risk wasting resources and valuable employee time on ineffective training activities. A key part of your training strategy should be setting out your company’s goals and objectives, along with the key performance indicators (KPIs), and then actively monitoring them to gauge the success of the training and make adjustments accordingly. Just as a few examples, you could check the impact of the program on test scores, self-reported employee satisfaction, the number of modules and assignments completed, or the level of interest in further training. 

managing training for manufacturing

Providing Manufacturing Training Using Training Software 

Once you’ve decided on the content of your training and how the training should be structured, you’ll need to determine how you will deliver it to learners. If you’re planning on utilizing some combination of classroom-based training and digital learning then you’ll most likely be using a Learning Management System (LMS). Simply put, an LMS is a platform that allows you to assign learning content to users and track completion. You may well create some of your training directly within the LMS. 

By using an LMS, you can quickly and reliably deliver training to employees around the world. For example, if teams in different geographic regions are subject to different environmental regulations, you’ll need to provide training that is appropriate to their region. With an LMS you can manage these groups (or other groupings based on roles, hierarchies, or responsibilities) and assign them the appropriate eLearning course, while monitoring course completions to ensure that all users have completed the relevant training. 

An LMS is a vital part of your toolkit when it comes to efficiently distributing training to your employees throughout your global operations. 

Utilizing a Training Management System for Manufacturing Programs 

We’ve already discussed the role an LMS will play in your training and development strategy, but this is only one piece of the puzzle. An LMS is simply a tool that delivers specific learning content to set groups of users when you tell it to – for example, if you assigned onboarding training to a cohort of new hires to be completed by a certain date. However, an LMS isn’t well suited to organize the training to be delivered, along with all of the resources required for that training. 

Whether you’re a manufacturing company’s in-house HR or L&D department, or an outsourced training company providing manufacturing training, manually micromanaging training can quickly become a complicated, time-consuming process. Due to the scale of most manufacturing companies, both in terms of the number and geographical distribution of employees, trying to manage training using spreadsheets can be messy and impractical. 

A Training Management System (TMS) is designed to complement an LMS, allowing you to efficiently plan, organize, and schedule the various components of your training program. While the LMS acts as the learner-facing platform, a TMS operates in the background to ensure that training is delivered smoothly and cost-effectively and helps you assess whether your training is helping your company achieve its KPIs.  

Firstly, a TMS helps you to manage your resources, such as quickly scheduling training to suit your employees and trainers, and assigning the best trainers (i.e. those with the most relevant credentials) to each of the instructor-led sessions. Secondly, the software allows you to monitor the costs associated with the different parts of your program, and how they fit into your budget. Finally, the TMS offers reporting on your KPIs, so you can easily monitor the training that’s being completed, as well as what is and isn’t working. 

Delivering Effective Training Programs for Manufacturing Employees 

The manufacturing industry is poised to continue growing in the next few years, and in a rapidly changing world, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up. Therefore manufacturing companies (and the training companies that assist with providing training) must be able to deliver effective training at scale, identifying parts of their process where they can improve quality and productivity, and responding by iterating on their training approach.  

By incorporating a TMS such as Training Orchestra into your manufacturing training, you can automate several processes and optimize scheduling. This frees up time for your learning and development specialists, allowing them to spend less time on admin and focus on the broader strategic picture and the quality of your training. 

Want to find out more about how Training Orchestra can help you roll out a manufacturing training program in your organization?

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