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ODR Best Practices Series: We only want operators who ALREADY know how to do their job

As your ODR program evolves and grows, processes will be improved, technology will evolve and personnel will come and go. The amount of time devoted to your training program, content and timing of execution can make or break your program. Training is the cornerstone to keeping ODR knowledge current.

If most companies agree about the importance of training, then why does it tend to be one of the first budgets that get whacked when times get tough? The rationale of training is simple; it ensures that craft people that actually perform ODR can do it well. The challenge is that training becomes part of the living ODR program, requiring regular updates and refresher training.

Plan for lots of customized ongoing training with annual updates capturing processes improvements and technology advancements. Also plan on many different training modules that are specific to different audiences. Don't train them on topics they don't need to know, like unused technology features. Keep the training short and specific. Only take training as in-depth as the audience requires. It's obvious that operators, operations supervisors and program administrators require ODR training. Often overlooked are the asset preparation team and the mechanics who repair assets. The asset prep team is the folks that make sure the assets are cleaned to like-new conditions, measurement and inspection points are clearly marked on assets, and asset identification technologies, like bar codes and RFID tags, are attached. They make sure inspection points are accessible, assess whether guards need to be modified, confirm gauges are working and ensure significant lighting is available to make the inspection or measurement. The repair team needs to be trained on the importance of the work the asset preparation team has completed so the condition of assets can be maintained, especially making sure inspection markings and asset identification technologies are properly put back on the assets after they are repaired and placed back in service.

Very important to a successful ODR implementation is program orientation training so people in all disciplines and levels understand the goals and objectives of the ODR program. That includes orientation for the executive team. It is also vital not to overlook the necessity of change management training for the implementation team. This training prepares the team to be ready to deal with a multitude of reasons to go back to the way operators used to work before ODR. Change management training is also vital to sustain ODR.

ODR training needs to focus on how to use mobile units, how to make inspections and measurements, how to use accessories like strobe lights, ultrasonic guns, vibration and temperature probes, and how to make corrective actions. Corrective actions can include tasks like minor adjustments, cleaning, changing filters, or topping off lubrication, all of which could require some level of training.

Operator training should not stop with the technology. There should be training to raise operators' level of competence of the assets they operate and awareness of the contribution those assets make to the process. They need to be trained on typical failure modes, specific symptoms to look for that indicate potential problems, consequences of failure and impact of downtime. Understanding the importance of the inspections they make helps them value the ODR tasks they perform and is invaluable to helping sustain ODR.

Training materials need to be updated regularly, accommodating new features and program expansion. Training materials will be reused a number of times throughout implementation and for refresher training. Make training materials readily available on a reference site, like creating an ODR site on the company's Intranet. Consider training materials in both print form and computer based. Use lots of graphics and videos. In fact, both graphics and videos can be loaded on mobile units for quick refresher training in the field. Make sure to include training materials that cover ODR technology trouble-shooting, repair and support procedures.

Training needs to go beyond the classroom. Take advantage of on-the-job training (OJT) opportunities by pairing up less experienced operators with more seasoned operators. Get operators involved with activities that reinforce OJT, such as equipment repairs and root cause analysis.

ODR offers significant contributions to a plant's overall reliability. A detailed, living training plan helps ensure ODR continues to contribute to the company's bottom line.

authorDave Staples, Business Development Manager, SKF Reliability Systems, has over 20 years of industrial experience specializing in asset reliability technologies and asset management services. For the past six years, Dave has been focused on helping customers implement and sustain Operator Driven Reliability programs.

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