Ensuring a Skilled Workforce in Reliability Engineering, Precision Maintenance and More
Maximum equipment reliability and uptime is mission-critical to efficient industrial asset management. As such, properly managed asset reliability and maintenance programs are a big element of success. They are also needed to reduce maintenance costs, increase overall equipment availability and promote facility operating safety.
Even though facility operators recognize these facts, they often do not have the time or skills to ensure maintenance staff are properly trained to ensure the best possible results. They may also be experiencing negative impacts from staff shortages due to the lingering pandemic, the retirement of highly skilled older workers and other factors.
Add to these challenges the need to ramp up their operations and workforce for the transition to Industry 4.0, including Industrial Internet of Things (e.g. IIoT) devices and methods. Taken as a whole, these challenges can reduce their odds of supporting a successful, cost-effective maintenance program.
As an eLearning Director at I-care, a firm with a mission of helping other companies promote asset reliability and increase cost-effectiveness, I am deeply involved and invested in our training programs. The reality is that experienced, skilled maintenance technicians are in high demand. That makes training an ongoing need in the best of conditions.
Characteristics of a Comprehensive Training Program
While I am somewhat biased in favor of our training programs and invite anyone reading this article to check them out, my underlying message is more direct: well-documented and professionally developed training — no matter what firm develops it — is essential.
Following are some practices we incorporate in our training programs that I recommend you look for in any training program or solution you evaluate.
- The courses should address all skill levels. In particular, training is mission-critical for workers in low and mid-level positions. These are less-skilled workers who can eventually be “coached up” to assume senior roles. That can result in huge savings over seeking high-skilled, in-demand workers at the outset.
- The best training programs include “soft-skills” training, where maintenance technicians and other workers learn how to communicate more effectively with each other, company management and even clients if needed.
- The training courses are certified by recognized industry groups, such as the Mobius Institute, Infrared Training Center and International Council on Machine Lubrication.
- The training program preferably will also include sessions with company “subject-matter experts” who can offer insight into trends and other information for their particular area of expertise, such as condition-based monitoring.
Learning Under Real-World Conditions
In addition, I recommend company leaders partner with a firm that can conduct a simulated “facility shutdown process drill” complete with logistical and safety-related restraints. It will provide attendees with a clear, detailed picture of how one works, typical activities such as work execution management, and commonplace challenges they may encounter, such as resource restrictions, quality issues and scheduling concerns.
Admittedly, senior-level techs can also train less seasoned workers, but that should be more of a coaching exercise and not a primary training mechanism. Senior technicians are more expensive and can help resolve a greater range of problems without assistance than junior or medior (intermediate) workers.
The alternative to ignoring the value of training is that your firm, no matter how advanced it considers itself now, eventually will have an outdated workforce. You won’t be prepared to tackle the challenges of rapidly evolving disciplines like predictive and prescriptive maintenance. Once you get behind your competitors, it’s often more expensive to play catch-up than to simply train your staff well in the first place.
In summary, I urge all facility leaders, maintenance managers and other industry professionals to invest in professional training, delivered by experts. Our research indicates that the benefits foster company success and boost its productivity. They can also help a firm retain existing, highly skilled and informed staff:
- 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
- 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills or retrain to remain employable.
I hope you have found this information helpful. To learn more about our training offerings, download our catalog here: https://www.icareweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Training-2022-EN.pdf.pdf
Prefer to read a bit more insight, first? One of my colleagues recently published a great article on Industry 4.0. You can access it, here: https://www.icareweb.com/resource/moving-to-industry-4-0-is-your-organization-ready/