Factory floor skills management: closing the circle

In a manufacturing business, the effective management of factory-floor skills is crucial. You know that; I know that. But saying that effective skill management is crucial is one thing — and turning words into action quite another, writes Jeremy Harford, managing director, Mestec.

“Anyone familiar with manufacturing industry can readily see symptoms of ineffective management of factory floor skills. Poor productivity. Poor quality. Late orders. Cost over-runs. And so on.

But it’s worse than that. Because the problem isn’t just poor performance. It’s variable performance.

Layup Training Senior Aerospace BWTOne person performs a task well—resulting in high quality output and top notch productivity. The next person to perform the task, though, isn’t quite as skilled. It takes longer to perform the task, and the quality isn’t quite as good. Multiply this across an entire factory, and the impact on cost, productivity and delivery reliability mounts up.

So what’s the answer? According to conventional wisdom, there are a range of ways to address the problem.

The problem is, they’re for the most part fairly poor at the job. Human resources skills management systems, for instance, work at the wrong level of granularity. Factory-floor skills matrices? They tend to be used as a tick-box scattergun, intent on putting everyone through training, irrespective of whether that training is needed or not. Supervisors’ own informal black-book ‘systems’? No thanks.

And in any case, what all of these approaches fail to deliver is the Holy Grail of skills training: consistency.

They’re a ‘train and forget’ solution, in short. They’re not clever enough to provide information on who might need remedial training, because of slow output rates or problems with quality.

Here at Mestec, even though we’re not — officially, anyway — in the business of skills management, we often see our software being used to ‘close the circle’ in factory-floor skills management.

Because our inexpensive factory floor data capture systems provide the granular information necessary to know, operator by operator, how well tasks are being performed. From an output rate point of view. From a quality point of view. And from a standard time or standard cost point of view.

The result? Variabilities in output, quality and cost don’t just get lost in the day-to-day bustle of the factory floor, but are intelligently used to drive factory floor training.

Isn’t that what effective skills management is all about? We like to think so. Do you?”

To learn more, visit: http://www.mestec.net