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Two-fold approach

25 January 2013

MCP has refined two main approaches to plant/production maintenance training needs: the classic training needs analysis (TNA) and a competence-based approach. John Saysell, senior training consultant, explains The cla

MCP has refined two main approaches to plant/production maintenance training needs: the classic training needs analysis (TNA) and a competence-based approach. John Saysell, senior training consultant, explains

The classic TNA is a broader way of examining what it is that maintenance technicians do; the competence-based approach is narrower but an output from it is evidence of competence. Some technicians take umbrage at having their skills assessed, so a combination of the two approaches might be appropriate.

Introduction of a robust training and development plan delivers many benefits.

These include: improved morale, motivation and job satisfaction, improved performance, individual training plans, clearly defined maintenance roles, and compliance with legislation. such training provides evidence of competence and records of training, reduces reliance on external contractors and aligns training with business needs

Approach 1 - Classic TNA Communication sessions: All stakeholders, including Union reps, attend a presentation outlining the process, explaining how it is objective, fair and recognised as Best Practice, and they can ask questions. It is usual to involve client and training organisation in the process.

Task analysis:Vocationally competent trainers skilled in maintenance 'walk the job' with the technicians, listing each task maintenance engineers undertake. Interested parties review the task list which gets turned into a questionnaire. This gives a sample of health and safety and legislative areas which might be addressed and an idea of the format that might be used.

Questionnaire administration: Employees have their questionnaires administered in small groups by the consultant and validated by a line manager.

Skills audit: Depending on the job, mix of tasks and skills within a production area, it will be possible to identify an ideal skill set for certain groups. Candidates can then be audited against their ideal skill sets.

Development of individual training plans: These will be a product of the skills audit, and linked to business needs.

Development of team training plans: If it is appropriate, it will be possible to identify team training plans at this stage.

Approach 2 - Practical competence based Communication sessions: Stakeholders attend a presentation outlining the process explaining how this method is objective, fair and recognised as Best Practice. They have the opportunity to ask any questions.

Task analysis: Vocationally competent maintenance engineers 'walk the job' with technicians, listing the tasks they undertake.

Identification of core competencies: From the task list, a number of core competences will be reviewed and discussed between customer and trainer. Some will be suited to higher level technicians; some to lower, or they may be graded to suit either.

Company validation of assessments: On completion of an assessment or suite of assessments a review should be undertaken and a progress report provided Candidates undertaking individual assessments in groups: Planning assessments, to minimise disruption to normal operation may be required. Subsequently assessments can give feedback on either an individual basis or group basis.

Job roles and profile assessments for maintenance engineers: Structured behavioural interview.

Competency based interview questions are designed to help make interviewing more precise and objective.While the competency framework describes the knowledge, skills and attitudes required in a role, the questions help to discover how a candidate measures up to the competencies. Each interviewee should be asked the same questions and notes made to support selection decisions.

Scores help to distinguish between candidates.

Competence-based interview:Working from existing maintenance personnel training needs analysis templates and job description, a short questionnaire should be agreed with the customer. The candidate will complete the questionnaire prior to the competence-based interview. Depending on answers given, the interviewer will be able to explore what the candidate really knows.

Typical Able Test: The person tested imagines themselves at a paint spray can maker and has to learn to recognise faults on finished cans, having learnt all the key factors about making them correctly. Purpose of test: Asks candidates to assimilate key instructions, tests ability to fault find quickly, and calls for accuracy under time pressure Electronic: Test uses a small scale production line controlled by a PLC. Faults can be placed in this system which candidates must find and cure.

Product Sorting: A test production line is reproduced on a drawing that shows balls being fed to chutes with 'flipflop' diverting valves fitted. The chutes lead to hoppers. The candidate, against the clock, must determine how many balls arrive in each hopper. Two faults are introduced and the candidate must then find the valves causing the problems.

Other suggestions include belt/chain alignment, dead motor fault finding and problem solving on an electro pneumatic rig.

Belbin team roles inventory. Developed by Dr Meredith Belbin and used in his work on team effectiveness, it is based on eight roles which are thought necessary for teams to be effective and determines relative preferences for each of these. The inventory is used in organisations of all sorts - in industry, commerce, national and local government - as an instrument to help in the selection, formation and development of work groups and project and management teams.