Manufacturing is entering an economic period unlike any before it. A massive population of new workers is entering the labor force, as an older generation slowly trickles out. Seasoned veterans have old-school knowledge accumulated throughout the years, while newbies fresh to the workforce have modern training and tech-savvy inclinations. This situation presents an ideal opportunity to establish a continuum of repair expertise within your factory.
A comingling of insights
Establishing the best possible continuum of repair expertise means tapping into proven methodologies and augmenting them with new ideas and practices. More than asking yourself if the way you’ve always done things is the right way, ask if it’s still the best way. Likewise, don’t fix what isn’t broken! Evaluate your current practices for efficacy and use perspectives from both your seasoned staff and newcomers to find the best solution.
The two segments of your workforce can and should teach each other. No amount of schooling can match on-the-job training, just like formal instruction on complex systems trumps a trial-and-error approach. Recognizing the opportunities of both groups will lead to a more complete approach to maintenance.
Where to start
Developing your continuum means pooling information, examining practices, standardizing, and training. Here are some of the most crucial aspects of repair that demand attention within a continuum:
- Knowledge base — Every factory has specific expectations and information, and this data should be archived. Your knowledge base may come in the form of a robust maintenance library that details each machine and its nuances, or it might be a digital record of service logs and technical notes. Absolutely everything specific to your factory’s maintenance approach should serve as a foundation for reference.
- SOPs — Standard operating procedures (SOPs) aren’t new to any factory, but you might not have evaluated or updated yours in a while. Go through your SOPs thoroughly, make updates, and create a plan for continually updating them. This exercise will bridge the gap between seasoned techs who know each step and new recruits who need a specific framework to familiarize themselves.
- Training — Training and ongoing education are imperative for every maintenance team. Good training means teaching newcomers proven techniques and older techs new technologies. Having detailed training records for each tech will help make sure everyone is getting the individual training they need to contribute as expected. This is especially important as we integrate new technologies into the workplace. Many technology providers offer training curricula to keep your workforce current.
These pillars of your repair program serve as the foundation for all work done. Keeping them current and updated will serve as the foundation for the continuum of repair you’re working to establish.
Coordinating a continuum
With a knowledge base, SOPs, and routine training, the commingling of your established workers and your new techs will serve as the final piece of your continuum’s puzzle. Veterans will show newcomers the ins and outs of specific plant operations, while new workers will help you adopt the cutting-edge practices they were formally schooled in.
From all of this comes a better standard of maintenance and repair, rooted in the ongoing collection of knowledge brought to and fostered in your factory. When repairs and maintenance are actually executed, they’ll benefit from proven experience, cutting-edge techniques, standardized practices, and well-tracked results.