How to Train to a Higher Standard in Manufacturing

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Hayden Woodard -

How to Train to a Higher Standard in Manufacturing

Running an efficient, productive, and profitable manufacturing business in today’s environment is no simple task. While your equipment and input need to be top-notch, you won’t get the results you need without high-quality talent on your team. 

Many employees joining the contract manufacturing industry feel stress for their first several weeks or months on the job because:

  • They are working with unfamiliar equipment and processes.
  • They are learning by building products that customers will use.
  • A clear picture of the standards they need to meet hasn’t been shared.
  • Work instructions are confusing or contradictory.
  • An instructor or mentor isn’t readily available.

In a recent post, we discussed how you can attract quality talent to your manufacturing business. But how can you train those workers to a higher standard?


Train to a Higher Standard

According to Deloitte, there could be as many as 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030. But it’s not enough to just have warm bodies to fill these positions. Manufacturers of every shape and size are facing a skills gap. 

Investing in training is the ultimate solution. For many manufacturers, upskilling and training new and existing employees will create the most attractive work environment and boost long-term retention. Here are some of the ways manufacturers can train to a higher standard. 


Create a Defined Set of Standards

Applying a defined set of standards in manufacturing to your training will undoubtedly lead to better results. For manufacturers, various accreditations and quality standards can help improve efficiency and win the company more business. Your business can use these standards to guide its manufacturing training.

  • ISO 9001 — This is a standard for quality management. Companies implement the ISO 9001 standard as a signal that they consistently deliver products per regulatory and customer requirements. 
  • ASTM — Companies that implement ASTM’s steel standards agree to follow this agency’s guidelines in the production of industrial parts, mechanical components, construction elements, and other accessories related to them. 
  • IPC620 — The IPC/WHMA-A-620 is a quality standard outlining the requirements and acceptance for cable/wire harness assemblies. It encompasses training and certification to enable companies and individuals to develop the precise skills necessary for accurate wire harness assemblies. 


Identify Roles & Test for Skills

Before you can train anyone, you’ll want to identify the job roles at your workplace and test the current employees for their skill levels. Specifically, you should list each position, the tasks assigned to the role, and the skills most critical for optimal performance. This is so you can create a baseline and identify any skills gaps that exist and create a training program that sets up new and existing employees for success. 


Establish Achievable Milestones

All manufacturing training should ultimately help your business achieve its overriding goals. So, you should begin by listing those goals and then establish some achievable milestones that coincide with them. These business goals may include things like:

  • Increased production 
  • Increased quality
  • Increased profit/revenue
  • Improved regulatory compliance
  • Decreased waste
  • Decreased downtime
  • Decreased expenses
  • Decreased accidents

Before designing any training program, you should be crystal clear about what goals the training is meant to support. This point alone will help inform the rest of your choices. 


Create Training Programs

The next step is to create internal training programs that ensure every employee achieves 100% proficiency. This isn’t as simple as throwing together some PowerPoint presentations or asking employees to watch a few videos in their free time. 

A robust and effective manufacturing training program will involve multiple elements to keep workers engaged and reach those who have different ways of learning. For example, you might have some classroom time followed up by on-the-job demonstrations, virtual reality sessions, and periodic skills tests. 

Set aside sufficient time for new hires to become familiar with workmanship guides and instructions. For example, the IPC-610/620 provides pictures of products that meet the highest industry standards as well as of products that fail. If the workbook of standards is readily available, employees can compare their work to the workmanship standard and know if their work is acceptable. 

Employees that can recognize defective work will reduce scrap rates throughout their work life. It’s also helpful to provide materials for training that will be scrapped so trainees don’t feel over-pressured about making mistakes while learning. 


Transfer Knowledge

In addition to formal training programs, apprenticeships and mentorships are valuable ways to transfer knowledge in a manufacturing environment. In fact, more than 90% of employees who have completed apprenticeships remain on the job where they received their training. Mentors and instructors should remain readily available to provide hands-on training and answer questions. 


Encourage Certifications

While most manufacturing roles don’t require a college degree, many do require a specific set of skills. Whether you choose to list these as requirements for a position or encourage workers to pursue them after hire, here are some relevant and useful manufacturing certifications:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Manufacturing Engineering Certification
  • Certified Production Technician (CPT)
  • Certified Automation Professional (CAP)
  • Quality Engineer Certification
  • Certified Welder (CW)
  • CNC Lathe Certifications
  • Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT)
  • Certified Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Safety and Health Fundamentals Certification
  • Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Certification 


Track Results

Employee training requires an investment of time and resources. Your business needs to ensure it’s getting a sufficient return on its investment (ROI), so it’s critical that you track some hard numbers. 

Whether you invest in a training management system or go old school with a spreadsheet, here are a few training KPIs to put on your list:

  • Training completion rate
  • Training engagement rate
  • Training assessment scores
  • Training reset rates

When manufacturers focus on what they do best and outsource specialty functions to a trusted partner, this is another winning strategy. Custom Interface, Inc. is a certified wiring manufacturing contractor that can supplement your processes and deliver any additional capacity you need. 

We specialize in electrical wire and cable harnesses and electromechanical assemblies for a variety of applications. Our business trains to the highest standards in manufacturing with over 25 years of working on projects vital to our customers’ success. Contact us today for more information or to request a quote. 




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