Measurable employee empowerment

Posted on 20 Jun 2013 by The Manufacturer

It is often said that investment in training helps with employee empowerment, autonomous decision making and, ultimately, productivity. Medical device manufacturer Owen Mumford has put a measure on this in more ways than one through its investment in metrology training.

Owen Mumford, a medical device manufacturing company, supplies innovative technology such as injection-based drug delivery systems and blood sampling equipment to major diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies around the world.

It says that a recent decision to sponsor an employee the NVQ Level 1 Dimensional Measurement Training with the National Physical Laboratory has improved efficiency and productivity, as well as helping dedicated staff advance and enhancing their commitment to the company. One employee in particular, Barrie Hanson, attests to the fact that it has improved his contribution to the workplace and his career prospects.

Strong metrology skills are important to Oxfordshire-based Owen Mumford, which has been growing steadily for the last 60 years, and now has offices in five countries.

The company’s products must comply with strict regulation and quality standards, including ISO 13485 standards, Medical Device Directive 93/42/EEC and various national health standards in the countries where it operates.

As with any medical device manufacturer, the company necessarily supports a 100% right first time culture, but this can only be achieved if metrology engineers have the knowledge they need to support appropriate quality checking processes.

Dimensional Training has enabled Barrie Hanson to develop what used to be a repetitive, intellectually disengaged job into a value-add role which has announced productivity and efficiency for Owen Mumford.

Mr Hanson has been at Owen Mumford in various roles since 2006. He has always worked in metrology but his first roles were repetitive; operating machinery, putting parts on the machine, taking them off and recording the result. Over time he developed and needs to know more about the process he was carrying out, to understand the science behind it and he saw the results he did.

Colleagues recommended he should put through training at NPL and the level 1 Dimensional Training Course was the logical place to start.

“I had been picking up bits of knowledge from our engineers but this course brought it all together” says Hanson. “It gave me a thorough understanding of how measurement works that I could take back to the work place and immediately start applying”.

“NPL training has given me confidence to make informed decisions and empowered me to take on more responsibility. I’d say that, thanks to this course, I’m 50% more productive than I was.”

Independent thought

It’s a principal of lean manufacturing that operators should be able to make influential decisions about the processes they control. And the training Hanson completed has transformed his ability to take control of the processes he is responsible for.

He now constructs routines rather than just running them, and contributes vital data used for setting up new tools. Supervisors have given him more responsibility, which in turn has freed up management capacity for dealing with more long term strategic issues.

Hanson also says the training has given him the confidence to improve value flow in the organisation by stepping across the traditional silo barriers between production and engineering departments.

“After this course I was able to look at drawings and understand why things are drawn the way they are. We learned to apply geometric tolerancing and understand why certain levels of accuracy were required. With every job, I now question what the best approach is and choose the best way to measure, rather than relying on pre-defined routines. This makes everything more efficient.”

The upshot of this is that parts get assessed more quickly because the most suitable measurement technique can be quickly identified and selected.

Retention incentive

Hanson openly admits the training has made him more committed to his employer, meaning the employer may well have gained added ROI through staff retention. “It’s been a real stepping stone in my career,” he comments. “Owen Mumford is a really supportive organisation and this new found capability will be an important part of my career progression. I’m now in conversations about doing NPL’s Level 2 course to advance myself further.”

Hanson is one of two employees to have been through the NPL level 1 Dimensional Training Course which lasts three days and cost £750 per employee. The level 2 course which Hanson now aspires to is four days long and costs £1000.

Hanson sums up the business case and the personal reward for Owen Mumford’s investment. “This course has made my job more rewarding, my work more efficient and has given me the opportunity to progress within the business by adding value at a higher level. It’s a win for me and for the company.”