The 3 challenges of effective skill and competency management in manufacturing

Many companies nowadays are confronted with increasingly challenging market conditions. Changing customer requirements shorten development and product life cycles. Customers ask for individualized products or smaller lot sizes. Of course, this drives production complexity, and manufacturers have to adapt their production strategies. The use of a production planning software with fine-granular planning capabilities is a must to cope with the challenges of today’s business environment. But manufacturing is more than planning. It is about execution and value-adding activities on the shop-floor. It is about producing goods. And in many cases, this involves the work of human beings. Front-line workers are still the most valuable resource in many factories and efficient manual work processes performed by educated employees are key to success.

Main challenges for skill and competency management

As production processes constantly change, what does that mean for the individual employee? What impact does real-time production have on the required competencies of front-line workers? We see three main challenges related to skill and competency management for factory workers:  

  • Shorter product life cycle and reduced time to market require on-demand and quick learning cycles.
  • Increasing complexity in the production and manufacturing of products leads to more specialized work.
  • Future employees expect a skilled and competence driven working environment.

WORKERBASE and GKN PM jointly have created a solution package to address these challenges. The Continuous Learning solution bundles the WORKERBASE software platform with training and competency management consulting services. By using the solution, companies can redesign their training and competency management activities and implement real-time, on-the-job training which aligns with the actual business needs.

How does it work?

Based on real-time data collected from operational processes, you are able to identify process bottlenecks and the most needed skills for efficient operations. For example, by using the WORKERBASE system for coordination of quality inspections, you gain transparency about the number of needed inspections per part, the duration of the individual work activities, potential waiting times between activities, and the number of interactions between co-workers, e.g. support requests. The WORKERBASE system collects such worker performance data in an anonymized way. Process dashboards present the data in an aggregated form and provide detailed insights for forecasting and shift planning. In addition, skill gaps can be uncovered and training needs can be identified. In such a case, the WORKEBASE system provides functions to create training material for the consumption on mobile devices which can then be pulled by the individual employee on request.

By using the Continuous learning solution framework, you will be able to define concrete measures for skill development, e.g. mobile training sessions with step-by-step work instructions for different types of quality measurement routines for different product configurations. The training measures can range from individual concrete solution blocks, e.g. on-the-job training with mobile devices, to overall training programs for different job types. This might include, for example, the definition of a minimal skill portfolio, a concept to “distribute” needed skills among the workforce or a concept for skill-based planning and coordination. By using the WORKERBASE platform you will be able to give contextual guidance on mobile devices and upskill employees for certain tasks, all based on real-time data and inline with concrete needs. Employees can perform training sessions while being on the shop-floor. And because these short training sessions are problem-oriented and focus on small learning increments, they perfectly fit into the daily work environment of front-line workers. The usage of mobile devices and gamification principles further increases worker engagement and training acceptance. 

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What is the impact?

Continuous Learning transforms training procedures in manufacturing from long-term measures into short-term activities. Mobile devices allow problem-oriented learning on the job and enable real-time problem-solving. All based on actual, real-time data insights derived from operational processes. This ensures that training activities are in line with business needs. And as the WORKERBASE system is based on personal competence profiles for each individual employee, personalized trainings with dynamic adjustments related to the skill level of the individual can be created. 

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