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Six Sigma

Perfecting Performance

Empowering change with training within industry

Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 05:00

John Berger is no stranger to the benefits of training within industry (TWI). In 1995, when Berger was working for global manufacturing giant Emerson, he was challenged to move an entire product line of electro-mechanical sensors from Minnesota to Singapore.

At Emerson’s Minnesota plant, processes for manufacturing the sensors were documented, but didn’t include the institutional knowledge needed for a successful technology transfer. There are three modules of TWI: job instruction, job methods, and job relations. The job methods and job instruction training helped employees at the Minnesota plant to better document their processes so they would have clear-cut procedures for the new Singapore employees. Once the product line arrived in Singapore, workers there used TWI to maintain and improve future procedures.

Berger credits TWI with much of the move’s success. “TWI adds the ‘what, how, and why’ elements into the procedure so that the operators understand what they’re supposed to do, how they’re supposed to do it, and why they’re doing it,” says Berger. “The ‘why’ part of things really helps them to get the quality aspects locked into their heads about why it is important to do something [a certain way], vs. taking a shortcut.”

Berger has since introduced TWI and lean training initiatives to Fiserv, a Fortune 500 company providing information technology products and services to financial institutions worldwide, helping the company streamline processes to achieve annual savings of more than $4 million across the six U.S. facilities with active process improvement teams. Lean training began at the Shoreview facility when the company was having trouble deciding which improvement ideas to pursue and how.

“The biggest challenge we had was that we had a number of good ideas, but we really didn’t have a way to define what was good and get people involved to make it happen,” Berger says. “That’s where I started to see the need for more training on lean to help people know what a good idea was and get more people involved in process improvement.”

By working with a specialist from Enterprise Minnesota Inc., provider of business consulting and growth strategies for Minnesota manufacturing, more than 40 employees of Fiserv achieved certification as Lean Enterprise Certified Practitioners. For the final section of training, employees completed a project to revise the work flow of its nonsecure card production line. In doing so, the company reduced the need for hiring temporary labor on a project-by-project basis, saving time and money.

“Whenever you bring in temporary folks, you have to retrain them all the time,” Berger says. “We were able to eliminate that hassle.” Fiserv has since trained more than 500 of its 2,000 employees across the United States in basic lean principles, and annually completes more than 85 process improvement initiatives, with more ideas in the works all the time.

Fiserv’s Shoreview, Minnesota, facility now reaps additional benefits from TWI including better documentation of processes in the office and shipping areas.

“We have a very long-tenured work force, so our documented procedures out on the floor involve a lot of knowledge,” Berger says. “As people at the Shoreview Fiserv facility begin to retire, we want to capture that knowledge before it walks out the door.”

Beyond dollar savings and efficiency gains, a lean training initiative is “the perfect vehicle” for building a companywide culture of continuous improvement, Berger says.

“By doing things like TWI, you’re engaging the work force and asking them for input. You empower them to make change happen.”

For John Berger, TWI brings improved processes and fosters a company culture dedicated to continuous improvement at Fiserv.



About The Author

ANDREA LAHOUZE’s default image


Andrea Lahouze writes for the Enterprise Minnesota’s magazine, a nonprofit business consulting organization that helps small- and medium-sized Minnesota companies take advantage of expert business solutions to compete and grow profitably.