The TWI Blog for the Training Within Industry Community of Practice

Archive for the ‘TWI Job Instruction Coaching’ Category

Using The 4-step Method When There Is Variation

We recently received the following question.

I have started a pilot of TWI- Job Instruction at one of our facilities. I don’t recall reviewing how to instruct using the 4-step method when there is variation. What I have is a JIT assembly line that builds driver control modules for various suppliers. Our line builds match the supplier build, so the assemblies vary from one to another. For example, the assembly in the station is for a hydraulic braking system and the next 3 assemblies entering that same station may be for a pneumatic braking system, and within those 3 pneumatic assemblies, there may be 2 different configurations. Since this is an assembly line, the necessary tools to complete the assembly can’t easily be taken to a controlled environment and taught. Do you have any insight or advice on how to handle training to the 4-step method without completely disrupting production? Will it fall under the same category as a long operation were the instructor does 1 type of system and configuration at a time until the operator has learned? If that is the case, how do we handle it when types and configurations are rare or sporadic?

Senior Master Trainer Patrick Graupp responded:

Thanks for your question and it sounds like you’re really in the thick of things with your JI training. Keep up the great work!   Your question is quite relevant because good instruction using JI is the critical factor here if you want to keep up with the high demands of JIT and other Lean initiatives just as you have described. It’s what will keep your company competitive.   You answered your own question when you sensed that this is the same kind of problem as instructing a long operation, where you have to teach it one element or unit at a time. Remember, we should never give the learner “more information than they can handle at one time” so teaching them one job at a time is the way to go.

 In order to teach at the line, you will have to have an experienced operator at the station who can handle the different variations that come down the line, even as you teach the new operator these tasks one by one. Teach the most common operation first since they will have ample opportunity to practice; the veteran can deal with the other jobs that come down the line at the same time. When you teach the operator the most common task, all the other variations are just that, “variations” on this basic task. So pick the most basic jobs to teach first and build on those skills. Once the new person has learned the most common operation, you can begin teaching the variations one by one and this part of the learning will be much faster because they have learned the basics.   Once the new operator starts to handle a larger share of the assemblies coming down the line, the veteran operator can move on to other tasks in the area coming back to the station only for those “rare or sporadic” pieces when they show up. Eventually, the new operator will be able to take over all the tasks.

 Think about it—we cannot learn “everything” all at once. But if we have an intensive instruction method like JI, we can compress this learning time without sacrificing quality and productivity. But there has to be a transition period for the new person to get up the learning curve. They cannot just jump into a line and do it all at once. The “sink or swim” approach is not acceptable and invites disaster.

Getting All Your JIBs in a Row.

One of our newly minted Certified Trainers raised the issue of how to provide notes for a number trainers instructing on a number of the same  JIBs provided to them.  Pat answers by focusing on the issue of the number of JIBs developed before the training occurred. He suggests a more developmental approach.  Please comment if you have some good ideas.

The Questions:

 I attended the 40 hr JI class back in December.  We are currently re-implementing JI here after a failed attempt last year.  There are 2 questions I was hoping to get some help with.  The first is, in our machining operation, we will be training somewhere near 100 JIBs per operator.  This will be spread out over several weeks.  We are currently trying to establish some documentation on how to communicate to instructors on what order the JIBs should be taught (an Operator training Plan).  I was wondering if anyone in the TWI community has encounter a similar issue and may have developed an effective way to establish and maintain a training plan such as this?

 Second, because we are trying to establish and maintain Standardized Work, and we will be using several different trainers to conduct the training on the same operation, we are going to be making 1 standard set of JIBs for each operation.  The problem we have come across is how do we provide “Instructor Notes” within a jib without complicating the JIBs or confusing the instructor?

I’m sure I’m not the first person to encounter these types of problems and was hoping the TWI community could provide some help based on other’s experiences.

Thank you very much.

Patrick Graupp Responded:
Hi.  This is Pat and I hope you’re doing well. BTW, our Danish friends are doing well and training a lot of JI classes.

My first impression was that 100 breakdowns in a few weeks seem like “biting off more than they can chew at one time.” In particular, that’s a lot of breakdowns to “road test” all at once. In other words, you have to learn from the breakdowns you make by trying them out and then fine tuning and improving them. Then the breakdowns you make thereafter will be better and better. It’s a development process. You can see from the Albany International case study how they learned to make breakdowns which was critical to their training success.

But you still need to make progress. So I think it’s better to select a smaller set of the jobs (not ALL of them) and focus on getting those trained and stabilized. That will be much more realistic for your machine operators to learn and master. If you’ve selected the right jobs (based on criteria you choose) then you will get the most “bang for your buck” and that will create momentum for moving on to the next set of jobs and so on. Better to move one strong step forward at a time rather than try to do it all in one swoop.

As for having several trainers using a common set of breakdowns, I think that is quite alright. That’s what LEGO did when they standardized jobs in a pilot project last year across three plants in Denmark, Hungary and Mexico. They had their “global trainers” create a common set of breakdowns and then let their “local trainers” teach using these breakdowns that crossed countries, languages, and cultures.

Let us know what other questions you have moving forward. Whatever you do, keep in touch so we can all learn from your experiences. Good luck with the project.

Best regards, Patrick Graupp

TWI JI: What do you do when a delay occurs?

Jeff Kidner asked:

 I completed my 12th JI course last week which took place in our Edinburgh plant so I am officially training nationally now!   I am currently running a course here at Llantarnam and a question has been raised which I would like your advice on.

 The breakdowns we have prepared so far are to enable a person to quickly remember to do a job correctly, safely and conscientiously-when all is well and running. Where you have corrective actions to take when something goes wrong with the operation or machinery used for that operation-would these be covered with a separate troubleshooting breakdown or included in the breakdown for the job being taught as important steps?

Thinking about it some of these failure modes would be captured by identifying them as key points by making or breaking the job, but probably not all of the potential failure modes.


Pat Graupp answered:  

This is a great question which I haven’t gotten before. I’m copying my colleague Richard Abercrombie because he is a Lean consultant and does a lot of work like what you’re referring to. I’m sure he has more insight on this than I do.

For my part, I think you can have both: (1) a breakdown which teaches how to troubleshoot and the procedure for finding what has gone wrong, and then (2) the UPDATED breakdown of the job which needs to be RETAUGHT to include the information (Key Points) for what we learned when resolving the problem. Correcting the problem, so it doesn’t happen again, means that we have found the root cause of the problem and added countermeasures (in this case retraining) to prevent it reoccurrence.

Richard Abercrombien answered:

 The two points Pat makes are very useful.  As a problem solving reference, failure modes and the appropriate responses can be formatted as a breakdown.  Of course, the challenges is touched on by Pat’s second point; is there a countermeasure that will control or eliminate the root cause so the “trouble shooting” isn’t necessary? 

Having said that, here is what we did at a steel plant I worked at once, and you may find this example helpful.  

In a rolling mill, delays are a key performance indicator.  The operation runs 24/7 so delays drop capacity and yield, and since the furnace keeps going, costs per unit of yield go up, too.  Keeping the rolling mill running smoothly is a daily objective.  But sometimes things go wrong.  We were working a lot on improving work processes to eliminate causes of delay as much as possible.

But what do you do when a delay occurs?  Some operators were better at it than others.  So they selected the best operator and asked him to explain how he kept everything coordinated so the mill could be started quickly after the delay was resolved.  After he wrote it down it seemed a little confusing.  So I put it into a breakdown to make it more understandable.  (To see the breakdown email Steve at )  


Jeff Kidner is a Continuous Improvement Facilitator and TWI Institute JI Certified Trainer at Burton Foods in the UK.

Coaching redux

We did a blog last September on TWI Institute coaching and are finding a spike in interest in it as we move into mid-summer of 2010.  Companies are now building coaching into the initial TWI training plan.  A typical scenario is a week of JI/JR training for XYZ Company followed by three days of coaching after a month of practice.  Another scenario is a JI training followed by two, one day coaching sessions, after three weeks and six weeks. Whatever the design, the purpose is the same: review the skills learned; observe the practice; improve the practice.    All the best have coaches, batting coaches for baseball stars, swing coaches for golf champions, speech coaches for politicians, and acting coaches for Oscar winners.  Yet, when we take a training course that teaches us skills in leading, or instructing, or improving methods, or improving safety, or problem solving,  we are reluctant to look to a coach to improve our performance.  At the TWI Institute we are encouraging coaching for our initial training and especially for our recent Certified Trainers because this is the best way to maximize the return on the training investment already made.  


Tag Cloud