Operator care: what is it, exactly? A manufacturer can assume that the operators they hire care about the equipment they handle – at the very least, because their job depends on doing so. Operator care, as an aspect of reliability, is a process that ensures that an entire organization is working toward a common goal. That goal is, usually, a decent throughput and fewer equipment-related delays.
Operator care starts with operator ownership. When an operator begins their day, are they ready to ‘own’ the piece of equipment they’re working with?
Proper operator care is a foundational aspect of total operational reliability. When operators take ownership of their equipment, operator care will fall into place more easily. You know that well-trained operators are crucial, but if communication about that training fails, you’ll build a wall between operators and their equipment.
Operator Care Training in Action
When Reliability Solutions kicks off Essential Asset Care classes for operators, we make sure to spend time with site leadership, laying a roadmap for success. This usually involves spending a couple of days on-site, reviewing class content and doing a leadership workshop to ensure everyone is on the same page. During the leadership workshop, we review what has to happen for success and what systems should be in place to ensure the sustainability of the process.
After all, we want our clients to be successful long after we’ve finished up the classes. The classes are just the first step in helping build an engaged workforce that owns their equipment.
Poor Communication = Poor Reception to Training
When all the pre-work is complete, it’s time to start the classroom sessions. That, as they say, is when the real fun begins. The students show up, the class gets kicked off, and we are off and running. Soon, though, the frustrations and ‘distance’ between the operators and what they’ve been told about the training become apparent. The students’ body language tells the whole story.
There they sit. A group of operators lean back in their seats, arms folded in front of their chests, and a look on their faces that says they would rather be anywhere else but in class. Even though plenty of planning and pre-work was done to execute the training and get the systems in place for success… nobody talked to the operators.
Operator ownership cannot flourish without proper training, but operators won’t be receptive to training they haven’t been given clear communication about. They consider themselves experts in their field; without communication, they won’t be willing to hear what someone else says about it.
Implementing new training needs to be communicated up, down, sideways and every way in between. You must communicate effectively when it comes to kicking off a new initiative. Saturate the intranet, saturate the control room screens, and mention the initiative at every meeting or encounter. Everyone on site (not just those attending training) needs to be aware of the purpose of the training, how important it is, and what the expectations are coming out of the classes.
Supporting Your Operators
If you want to show sponsorship of your operators, talk to them individually about why they are attending, and then commit to attending the class yourself. Rally the leadership team to show sponsorship of the initiative by signing up and following the courses as well – the difference it makes in creating a high-performance work team is staggering.
When students see the plant manager sitting in class, they perk up, drop their defensive postures and listen intently. After all, if this is important enough for the plant manager to attend, well, maybe, they’d do well to listen.
Operator Care = Operator Ownership
A reliable manufacturing plant needs reliable operators. When an operator (or team of operators) takes ownership and holds domain over one machine or part, they’ll be more attuned to how it functions on a day-to-day, shift-to-shift basis – helping them take a more proactive role in preventative maintenance.
Properly communicating the details and importance of a new training session will make operators more receptive to it. When they’re open-minded, they’ll better retain the critical skills of asset care and preventative maintenance being taught.
Operator Care is Key to Manufacturing Reliability
Regardless of the initiative, don’t overlook the importance of straightforward, one-on-one communication. People will appreciate the time spent outlining the purpose of the training and their role in it. It helps, and clients who spend time communicating effectively with their operators about the training and setting the expectations early reap the rewards.
The time spent upfront pays dividends with improved learning in class and improved application on the job once the classes are completed. After all, the goal is an engaged workforce of operators who own their equipment; completing the pre-work and good one-on-one communication help to get the ball rolling.
Get Operators On The Path to Ownership
Examine your team and ask yourself if they ‘own’ the equipment. Improving operator care is one of Reliability Solutions’ pillars of reliability. Contact us today to see how one of our training courses could help your operators take proactive maintenance measures on every piece of machinery they’re working with.