A program called Training Within Industry (TWI) is gaining renewed attention in the United States. Indeed, IndustryWeek's June issue contained the article Training Within Industry: Everything Old is New Again, which discusses the program. Among the interview subjects for the story was Bryan Lund, a member of the Global Lean Office at Energizer Battery Co. What follows is a complete transcript of his responses to questions posed by IndustryWeek.
IW: How did your company learn about TWI (Training Within Industry)?
Lund: I introduced TWI to the Global Continuous Improvement Office at Energizer. My experience with TWI began about three years ago within our local SME [Society of Manufacturing Engineers] chapter #204 in Burlington, Vermont. Our self study group was trying to get to the bottom of standard work at Toyota, and we ran across Robinson's Toyota DNA article. We dug a little deeper and somehow found myself in the National Archives in College Park, Md. -- scanning as much of the original manuals as possible. All of the materials are available in the public domain on the web. All of the members in our study group have since introduced TWI to our respective companies and have since learned a great deal about continuous improvement.
IW: Why did you decide to introduce it?
Lund: Each of us in our study group felt that something was missing from the Western management model of standardized work, let alone our respective companies. When we discovered that Toyota was using TWI Job Instruction, pretty much unchanged from 65 years ago, we thought there might be something to the program that we are all missing. Our lesson learned from the Job Instruction program was that we were only going to learn the benefits of the program if we tried it, so we all resolved to introduce it within our companies.
IW: Approximately when was the decision made to introduce TWI?
Lund: Approximately three years ago. We are currently in pilot mode at three locations. I pitched the idea to the managers in plant 1 and they are using it in select locations within their plant. I also pitched the idea to the plant 2 manager and have nearly completed training for all employees. In the plant 3 location, the training coordinator was trained as a JI trainer and she has trained all employees at that location.
IW: Are you introducing the program yourself, or are you working with somebody or some organization?
Lund: Primarily myself, working out of the global continuous improvement office. We have four other JI trainers embedded within manufacturing locations.
IW: Where are you in the implementation process? Has it progressed as you expected going into it?
Lund: We are using the standard installation plan outlined by the [original] manuals. Top management must be sold on the benefits of the program and be the primary champion. Multiple, two-hour sessions make up the program depending on the size of the group. The participants bring real problems into the sessions in order to practice the four-step method and in creating Job Breakdown Sheets. The participant make up is cross functional, usually consisting of team leaders, engineers or supervisors. Often however, there is a focused problem that suffers from variability in the work. This is where we will bring in a work group of mechanics and engineers, for example, and have them agree on the one best way to do the job. The group will then create a time table for training and introduce the new method to all of those that do that job. We want to make sure the solutions stick, so a follow-up plan is created for the purpose of management coaching out on the shop floor.
IW: What have been the challenges you have faced in implementing TWI? Any pleasant surprises?
Lund: Existing training programs are roadblocks. Job Instruction is seen as simply a training program. Of course, once someone goes through the program, they realize it is more of a thinking process that helps people work through the problems of their job. It just so happens that the vehicle for standardizing solutions for that job can be achieved through the job instruction method. This means the main challenge is to get people to understand what Job Instruction is and what it isn't.
Some nice surprises I've encountered [are] when a group solves a real vexing problem with a seemingly simple approach, such as breaking down a job. It is amazing to see the cooperation that six people have when they realize they have inadvertently created six standards for a job. It suddenly dawns on them where one of their biggest problems lies: in the lack of standardized methods and work. Management also now has a way to follow-up with people and understands what is happening on the job. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to grasp the situation on the shop floor. The Job Instruction program helps managers with this critical skill. The more we practice lean, the more we realize that the secret is in developing the problem solving skills of people. TWI helps us do that.
IW: What do you hope to gain from implementing TWI?
Lund: Confident, problem solving people.
IW: Have you seen any results to this point?
Lund: Examples: Increase in production areas of 30%. Decrease in one defect of 70%.
IW: Would you consider this a culture change for your employees? And if yes, how have you been addressing this?
Lund: Absolutely. We see people confident in proceeding with improvements. We see managers more engaged with their people. They are working together to solve problems and aim to standardize them until they find a better way.
We do not go into our sessions looking to change the culture within two weeks as if it were a project. Changing behavior takes time. All we can do is teach some critical skills, coach those people and encourage them to practice those skills every day.
Interested in information related to this topic? Subscribe to our weekly Continuous Improvement eNewsletter.