At a high level, collaboration is seen as a soft-skill – a fundamental piece of good teamwork that has a nebulous effect on productivity.

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When prioritized by an organization, however, collaboration can be much greater than this. It becomes an operational system that connects resources across a diverse company structure to improve outcomes. The Center for Creative Leadership describes this form of structured collaboration in three levels:

  • Structural Level – A full understanding of the role and responsibilities of your employees.
  • Systemic Level – The systems, processes, and policies that are already in place.
  • Interactional Level – The communication systems in place between employees.

Employees do not act randomly. They operate within the construct of the systems you’ve implemented and nowhere is this more apparent than in training. The platforms, materials, and best practices implemented at an executive level directly influence the efficacy and impact of your training regimen.

In The Toyota Way, Jeffrey Liker explores Toyota’s core work principles and the culture they use to support their training methods. A foundational element is exploring the different sources of waste in an organization – from overproduction and defects to worker time spent waiting and over-processing resulting in unnecessary steps.

One of the most intangible but impactful sources of waste, though, is unused employee creativity – representing the value lost by not leveraging employees and engaging them in the workforce.

Let’s take a closer look at what a collaborative training program looks like and how it helps organizations reduce waste and improve processes as a whole.

Structuring a Collaborative Training Program 

Toyota follows fourteen core management principles that help improve processes and leverage employee creativity.

By basing their decisions on long-term goals and not short-term gains, they are able to reduce overproduction, level out the workload for their employees, and building a culture that gets quality right from the start. It’s that results-oriented approach that empowers a truly collaborative approach to training.

In the three levels outlined above, a training program is defined by:

  • Who is being trained and who will be training them.
  • The training materials you provide for the process.
  • How best practices and training materials are communicated to those employees.

In a traditional manufacturing plant environment, this was often somewhat unstructured. The training was performed on a one-to-one basis, often specific to individual workstations. That meant two new hires onboarded at the same time could receive vastly different training if they worked different shifts or manned different stations.

It also led to other potential challenges in rotation – someone who has only been trained in a small number of stations won’t be able to rotate into a new position if there is unexpected turnover or a shift in labor demand. And if they do, they likely aren’t trained for it.

A collaborative training program addresses all three of these issues, using technology to supplement and close those gaps. That means:

  • A centralized training platform with videos, checklists, and visual guides to operating equipment on the front line.
  • IIoT devices that can capture and record data about the use of certain machinery and prepare reports for evaluation by trainers.
  • Detailed digital safety instructions and checklists for completing key job duties that ensure higher compliance rates and a safer work environment.
  • Digital Andon Cord for direct communication between everyone on the front line and supervision if there are questions.

Technology supplements training by establishing a more consistent definition of Standard Work, a system by which to measure and audit that work, and a communications platform that keeps employees connected when they have questions. It democratizes insights in a way that traditional training platforms cannot.

How A Collaborative Training Platform Benefits Organizations

Traditional training uses an outdated model that hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. The result is $139 billion of annual wasted profits due to the use of paper alone. The cost of training, in particular, is massive.

Labor inefficiency over the training period for a new employee is between $3,966 and $8,470 per worker. Additionally, inefficiency cost due to turnover can be as high as $50,000 per year. Assuming a 30% worker turnover and 8.8 new workers per month, this can cost upwards of $2-5M per year.

How does a more collaborative training process address these inefficiencies?

  1. Digital tools accelerate front line training, reducing the traditional 6-12 week ramp up time.
  2. Collaboration helps identify and eliminate hidden factory processes that lead to inefficient practices.
  3. Front line employees gain access to ongoing training tools to improve their flexibility and enhance their problem-solving capabilities.
  4. You are no longer reliant on a small number of veteran employees to manage your training.

The goal of collaboration in training is to take the unmanageable variables out of the process and create a more standardized, reliable form of work that can be scaled. Your front-line workers become knowledge workers who help one another improve.

The result is not only a significant cost savings but improvements to productivity, efficiency and the overall effectiveness of work processes.

Smart Work Station’s Collaborative Approach to Training

Andonix designed Smart Work Station to help close common gaps with a fully digital solution for work instructions, checklists, and front line communications. The result is that companies see 50% faster validated learning, 50-70% faster retention velocity and 80% faster real-time data access and reporting to provide immediate feedback.

Learn more about how Smart Work Station is leveraging industry 4.0 to help organizations transform their training processes to be more collaborative and engaging.

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