By Jerry Thiltgen, Senior Manufacturing Specialist, WMEP
What’s old is new when it comes to fortifying the basic concepts of lean manufacturing.
Training Within Industry (TWI), which was developed to support industrial firms for the United States war effort during World War II, is widely considered to be genesis of modern manufacturing philosophies, such as lean manufacturing and kaizen.
More than one million people were trained in TWI methods during World War II. TWI also helped rebuild Japan’s infrastructure after the war and remains especially relevant today as manufacturers rebuild their businesses in the United States after the economic recession.
In many instances, lean manufacturing efforts don’t stick, even when there is initial success. Part of the issue is that we sometimes don’t do a good enough job of getting the shop floor people involved.
TWI goes hand-in-hand with lean manufacturing initiatives that came into vogue in the 1980s and remain an important factor in keeping manufacturers competitive and efficient. But in many instances, lean manufacturing efforts don’t stick, even when there is initial success.
Part of the issue is that we sometimes don’t do a good enough job of getting the shop floor people involved. You’ve got to get down to the working person and make sure he or she buys into it. If you don’t, the Lean efforts you invested in will not endure. That’s the job relations piece of TWI. Another issue is that employees don’t have standardized work which is the job instruction piece of TWI. Without standardized work, there is no baseline.
These issues and others can be addressed through TWI.
Although many people may think of TWI as a training program, the results go far beyond that. It does, in fact, improve quality, safety, productivity and cost. At the same time, the culture changing results can be even more important.
The basic concepts are exactly the same as those used in the World War II era and are designed to improve a process, such as making good parts efficiently, as quickly as possible.
TWI, a first step in employee development, offers four programs:
JR – Job Relations:
Training in the foundations for good relations begins by letting each worker know how he/she is performing, giving credit where credit is due, telling workers in advance about forthcoming changes and how these changes will affect their job; the last piece is to make the best use of each person’s ability. Also covered in this section is how to handle a problem: get the facts, weigh and decide, take action and check results.
JI – Job Instructions:
Train the trainer – prepare to instruct by making a time table for training, breaking down a job into steps, preparing all the materials to be used and arranging the worksite for training. In addition, the worker should be prepared for training (what will be covered and what is expected). The content should be presented clearly – including the operation and its component steps, as well as key points and the reasoning behind the process. This instruction should be followed by each worker actually moving through the process, followed by a review of the process and follow up instruction as necessary.
JM – Job Methods:
Standardized job methods are developed by breaking down each step of the job, questioning every detail, developing a better method and then applying and standardizing the new method.
JS – Job Safety:
It is important to train for safety in the work setting by instructing each employee thoroughly in the safety aspects of their job. This includes keeping all safety devices in working order and at hand and following up safety instructions constantly.
All exercises are designed to build supervisor and employee skills.
Skills are developed through four simple steps: preparation, presentation, application and testing. Modules based on resolving current issues are shown, described, practiced, and reinforced by supervisors.
This process generates significant skill advancement that can be immediately implemented on the job.
The structure consists of five half-day classroom sessions where concepts are developed and applied.
By following the core of TWI’s robust method of training and adhering to a precisely scripted training manual for each program proven in actual manufacturing plants for more than 60 years, each program can be delivered in a standard and repeatable form, maintaining quality even when trainers have varying levels of experience.
When trainers give the TWI courses they deliver the same instruction, using the same examples and the same wording as previous trainers. The programs emphasize a learn-by-doing approach.
Although many people may think of TWI as a training program, the results go far beyond that. It does, in fact, improve quality, safety, productivity and cost. At the same time, the culture changing results can even more important. When used properly, TWI programs improve communication, teamwork and morale and form a strong basis of a learning organization, which is a major characteristic of all successful businesses.
The application of TWI isn’t limited to the manufacturing sector. The health care industry is latching on to it, like it is with many other lean initiatives.
After years of being forgotten, TWI is making a comeback in the United States due to a drive to learn lean fundamentals.