A resource for safe and effective troubleshooting from the leaders in simulation training.

Greetings, Troubleshooters! Welcome back to Troubleshooting Thursdays. Thanks for following along with us as we continue with our series of posts on troubleshooting technical training for manufacturing managers and executives.

Just in case you missed it, in recent months we featured a 17-week series of hands-on posts for manufacturing maintenance professionals, demonstrating our systematic approach to electrical troubleshooting. The series followed the content of our first module, Troubleshooting Electrical Circuits (you can see the ultimate series recap here!)

Over the past few weeks, however, we’ve been looking at troubleshooting from a slightly different angle: troubleshooting various human resources issues in the manufacturing industry, such as hiring, technical training, and retaining the right maintenance staff. We’ve also looked at managerial and executive topics such as calculating your ROI for training, and troubleshooting your plant reliability (for plant managers and for executives) and troubleshooting your workplace safety.

Today our post is about troubleshooting your training processes. If you’re a Director of Technical Training (DTT), or other manager responsible for determining content and designing electrical troubleshooting training programs in the manufacturing context, this one’s for you!

Troubleshooting Your Technical Training Challenges

As a Director of Technical Training in a manufacturing enterprise, your job is ultimately to ensure your company’s employees are equipped with the skills they need to do their job, and to design the most effective training programs possible within your budget. This of course includes the maintenance professionals who keep the production line equipment in good repair, who have a critical role in keeping the plant running smoothly. You know better than anyone that this can be quite a challenge, given the current manufacturing skills gap.

What Should Training Achieve?

Troubleshooting is tricky! When you are training people to troubleshoot electrical faults in production line machinery, they need to be able to do it

  1. Quickly, because it’s costing your company thousands of dollars in lost production every minute the line is down;
  2. Efficiently, meaning they don’t waste a lot of money replacing parts that don’t need to be replaced in the hopes that this will solve the problem; and
  3. Safely, because working with live current is very dangerous, and can mean severe injury or death to the employee or damage to multi-million-dollar machines.

Proper electrical troubleshooting means following a systematic method for hypothesizing where a problem lies and then testing the hypothesis, and repeating so that you are continually narrowing down the scope of the problem until you can isolate and repair it.

Maintenance professionals who are not trained in troubleshooting often resort to guesswork to find problems. That means they keep trying things until something eventually works. This is a hugely inefficient process. They might get lucky once or twice, but mostly they’ll spend a lot more time on the hit-and miss-approach. And, as the clock ticks and pressure mounts to get the lines up and running, staff may get desperate and start replacing expensive components unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, electrical troubleshooting is not a skill that’s taught in educational institutions, so it’s going to be up to you.

How Should You Deliver the Content?

One thing you’ll have to decide is how to deliver the content of your program. Should it be in a classroom with videos and training manuals, or one-on-one on-the-job teaching? Should you create a physical simulator? Or is simulation-based software the best approach?

Below is a comparison matrix showing the pros and cons (as we see them) of the various ways you can deliver your content.

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