Staff and training.

Posted by Joe Amick on August 7, 2023

One of the big issues that seems to come up more often is about training.

Many have sat in a meeting or been speaking to management about automation when the training topic comes up. This tends to be a brick wall many hit and just do not know what to do. There are answers to this issue and its not the road block many fear. There is some basic information to put it in context and help everyone to understand what in fact is needed.


We don't have staff trained in automation be it robots or other forms.

This is a very common situation to be in and is no cause for panic. When you take on a new process be it a saw, laser, press or even a floor cleaner there is some training involved. Even the floor cleaner needs adjusted and used with the right chemicals and brushes. But the floor cleaner will not spark the same fear as a robot would. Well the floor cleaner is a lot cheaper than the robot smart guy. True but how is it different in principle? You purchased something new that no one knows how to use and you want to get as much from it as possible. The need here is for training and nothing more complicated than that. Yes, the training for a robot is more than it would be for the floor cleaner but it is still just training.

So what do you do?

Well you can send people out for training with a robot maker like ABB, Fanuc, Siemens or any other brand. They will teach what the robot is and how to move it around and save some points. This is perfectly fine and wont cause any harm to go through. The issue is now what? You know how to move it around and save points but you don't know how to apply what you learned. You can give me the greatest oven in the world but that in no way means I can bake a cake. I have the oven and I know how to control it but I have no idea how to apply what I know. I would need to learn baking to be able to make a cake that anyone would want to eat.

When you get training from ABB, Fanuc, Siemens or any other this is where you end up. You have the oven but no idea how to bake. The way to resolve this is to take the baking class first. In the process of the baking class they will teach you how to use an oven in the context of baking. The same logic holds with robots and automation. The machine or automation builder can train your staff in the context of the application. Its the baking class for automation so to speak. Any builder worth their salt is going to be able train your staff as part of the process. And if your builder cant or wont do this that is a huge red flag.

The hesitation is that you do not want to bring in a new process or equipment and have no one in place to use it properly. I can not speak for every one but I can tell you what I do.

When the machine or process is in the testing phase with me before any purchase your staff will be involved. They get to see what the challenges are and how they were resolved as well as providing insight on the parts. Then once the machine or process is complete and before it leaves my factory there is staff training and proving the process. This gives your staff time with the engineers that designed and built the machine or process. They are hands on with building out the original programming and work side by side with those same engineers. They are trained in how to program and use the new equipment in the context it is designed for. They come away from that pretty much ready to hit the ground running. Once the machine is delivered to you that training is continued, now that it is in your building the process can be dialed in. They get hands on with the equipment to refine programs and reinforce what they have learned. This will include fine tuning the process and building new programs from scratch.

This process leaves you with staff that are not just trained but confident. They have been interacting with the new process all along the projects life and know it well. Knowing the process and the people involved directly gives them a huge advantage and puts things on the best path. Teaching them how to "bake" will give a far better outcome vs other options. With quality equipment and confident staff you are starting on the right foot to get the most from new automation. This is my standard process and it has proven effective countless time over at this point. Its not an option or an extra is and is just part of the normal process I adhere to. The goal is to resolve your issues and make processes more profitable. If I don't do every thing I can to insure that result I am not doing any one myself included any favors.

Don't fear the training aspect, work with a good builder and take advantage of the training and support offered. I am happy to go further or answer questions so please feel free to contact me if you need or want to know more.

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