At the onset of any program we should be more interested in education than in training. Training involves learning how to perform a task, while education means understanding the why or importance of the task. While both are necessary for a successful program, education will yield a stronger, more involved team. Unfortunately, many companies focus too much on the initial “button pushing” aspects when introducing a new technology.
Education encourages workers to become more invested in the tasks and success of the reliability program. It can transform the group into game changers in the area of reliability and cause them to question what is currently occurring within the program, to recognize opportunities and strive to improve.
While education is vital, it comes with great responsibility. Leaders of reliability programs should expect their employees to return from a reliability course with a better idea of how condition monitoring can effectively increase equipment reliability and be willing to provide the required support to take full advantage of the education gained.
Is there a difference between education and training? You bet!
How quickly the reliability programs succeed is highly dependent on the initial foundations that are set for it.
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by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL
When you or your supervisor are planning attendance at a training course there is an important consideration to keep in mind. Have you met the prerequisites for the course you have selected? These prerequisites are dictated by the company presenting the course and take into account basic knowledge about the subject as well as exposure to the subject. If you do not have the prerequisites this can make the learning objective difficult at best. Across most industries, timelines for taking most courses are determined by how attendees do based on their knowledge level.
In the vibration world it helps if the student understands the terms of the subject and has had at least some exposure to the subject. When attending a vibration hardware course it is good to have had some hands on experience, as those students tend to ask more questions and therefore get more out of the class.
If attending a software course, having at least basic computer skills is helpful. Remember, if you’re a novice there may be attendees far more advanced than yourself in the class, but if you’re more of an advanced user you may have attendees with far less experience than yourself. Courses are seldom taught for either the novice or advanced user. The material presented is in the middle of the class average. That does not mean that you should not attend the training class. Only that you make sure the course instructor knows your experience level. A good instructor should at the start of the course have an introduction period where you’re allowed to introduce yourself and convey your experience level.
Remember that everyone in a class started at some point with no experience or knowledge.
by Gary James CRL
“If you think the cost of training is high, try calculating the cost of ignorance.”
“What if we train them and they leave?”
“What if we don’t train them and they stay?”
“Training ain’t learning.”
When we see a magician pull off his head and stick it under his arm we are amazed; but when we know how the trick is performed, it becomes unimpressive. Technologies sometimes have the same effect on us. To see someone measure vibration on a machine and then be able to state that the inner race of a bearing has a flaw can be almost as amazing as a magician’s trick. It shouldn’t be, because all the stakeholders in machine reliability should be sufficiently trained to know how these “tricks” are performed. If stakeholders understand the basics of the technologies involved in maintaining machinery, the proper maintenance strategies are more likely to be developed. Many years spent in maintenance training reveals a most important concept: Frequently trainees have expressed a desire to have their supervisors present for the training. Unfortunately, they return to the job with high expectations of improving machine reliability only to discover that their bosses aren’t as thrilled about making the needed changes learned in the recent training. The saying, “We don’t know what we don’t know” comes to mind. Without training all the stakeholders, the full importance of what was learned by some is not understood by all. Consequently, the full value of the training goes unrealized. It is imperative that all stakeholders know the basics of the technologies used if the strategy is to be implemented successfully.
On the job training is a wonderful way to learn most jobs and should be part of the training in all jobs. Today’s predictive maintenance technologies are more complex and require more precision in order to be competitive in a world where machine reliability is a must for plant success. This new precision requires more than OJT because there may be some basic knowledge that OJT doesn’t address. Sometimes OJT teaches us to take shortcuts that may, in the long-run, be harmful to machine reliability. OJT alone is not usually adequate in teaching the philosophy required for successfully maintaining machinery. Formal classroom training is the best way to learn the principles and standards required in order to keep machines running at peak performance. Proven, researched-based training provides adequate hands-on-learning, as well as basic principles that apply across all technologies. These basic principles and standards embody the philosophy of successful machine management.
The author remembers teaching an electrical class where one of the participants declared, “Microfarads, picofarads… we don’t need all that theory stuff, we just need to know how to fix it.” What the student failed to realize was that “fixing it” is simply the application of theory. The application of any technology is putting theory to use, and theory is best learned in the formal classroom. A person with OJT can eventually learn to be an electrician on a specific job; but when that person is moved to a new location, he/she must learn the new job. Whereas, a person well-trained in theory can be a good electrician regardless of where he/she is placed, once the individual learns the locations of the equipment.
Today’s training must provide a thorough understanding of the theories of a technology if we are to be successful tomorrow. Technology has provided improved learning opportunities surpassing what was available in the past. Computers allow us to simulate scenarios that may be too expensive or time consuming to develop with physical components. This provides us with a greater learning advantage than was available in the past. Computers also allow us to easily individualize training for our particular needs and situations.
The knowledge base in all predictive maintenance technologies grows daily along with the data we collect on our machines. We will continue to find new parameters to measure as we improve our ability to keep our machines running. We can expect this trend to continue in the future because we can foresee a day when small devices will let us collect and share data with huge, smart data banks, making use of the collective knowledge in all maintenance fields. The new tools and technologies will always require a solid basic knowledge, well-grounded in theory, learned in the classroom. Data becomes meaningless, if we don’t have the knowledge to sort and interpret what is needed in order to keep our machines reliable. The knowledge base will continue to grow, so we must continue to learn.
“The only true competitive advantage is the ability to learn faster than the competition.”
by Bill Hillman CMRP