Now Is The Time To Train

Improving the proficiency of your personnel will outperform any other single improvement you can make in your CNC environment. Do you want less scrap? Well-trained CNC operators don't make mistakes that scrap parts.

Columns From: 3/2/2002 Modern Machine Shop,

Improving the proficiency of your personnel will outperform any other single improvement you can make in your CNC environment.

Do you want less scrap? Well-trained CNC operators don't make mistakes that scrap parts. Do you want more efficient setups? Well-trained setup people don't waste time trying to figure out how setups are supposed to be made. Do you want your CNC programs to run faster? Well-trained programmers take full advantage of the latest in time-saving technology. And in general, do you want higher profits? Well-trained people will dramatically outperform poorly trained people.

While everyone should readily agree with these statements, it's amazing how many excuses are given for not providing workers with more training. Two common excuses are related to how well the company is doing economically. If times are slow, management says, "We can't afford the cost of the training program." If times are good, management's attitude is, "We are too busy to let anyone take time out for a course."

The reality is that it's always the right time to train. When times are slow, it's the perfect time to train people because there is ample time­—and well-trained employees will perform better when times pick up. When times are good, it's also the perfect time to train people because you can easily afford the cost of the training program.

When it comes right down to it, it's simply a matter of choice: Either you choose to help your people improve or you choose not to help them improve. Given the benefits that can be reaped by improving employees' proficiency, this should be an easy choice indeed.

I've heard more than one manager say "If I train my people, they may leave the company for better paying jobs." Well, if you don't train your people, there is still no guarantee that they'll stay with you—and how much can a poorly trained workforce really help your company, anyway? If your company is not competitive with its wages and benefits, you are going to have problems attracting and keeping the best people regardless of how much training you provide.

Your company has committed significant resources to be in business. Just consider the total value of your company. Include land, buildings, machine tools, computers, personnel costs and all other company assets. Now consider the amount you spend per year to ensure that your people—the very people who control your company's destiny—fully understand their responsibilities. And I'm not talking about just making do; I'm talking about having people who are fully versed in the tasks they are assigned to do and can perform them as efficiently as possible. If you expect to stay in business in the long run, you can't afford not to maintain and improve the proficiency of your workers.

There are countless manufacturing-related companies and organizations that can help you in your efforts to provide your employees with training. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (www.sme.org) and Tooling and Manufacturing Association (www.tmanet.org) both provide seminars related to many facets of manufacturing. You can find numerous links to other training sites at www.cncci.com.

When you consider that the stakes involved are your company's very survival, it is clear that improving the proficiency of your workforce should always be a top priority.

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