Fertin Pharma halves errors and deviations with TWI

The Danish nicotine gum manufacturer has tested TWI in a pilot project. The results are so promising that the company will now introduce TWI as structured job training on the production floor in two Danish factories and eventually an Indian one.

Written by Poul Breil-Hansen, Editor, Erhvervsmagasinet SCM. 
Published at: effektivitet.dk and SCM.dk
Date: July 2016

Fertin Pharma produces nicotine gum and is subordinate to the health authorities' strict requirements for production processes and documentation as described in GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). The GMP requirements are formulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, FDA, meaning that Fertin Pharma has good control over all production processes in advance.

"Our processes are well-defined and the employees are really skilled, but our starting point is that we can always become even better. The company's management therefore decided in 2015 that structured job training would be a strategic focus area in the future. The starting point for the decision was a desire to improve the quality even more, reduce variation in processes and remove bottlenecks," says Hanne Lundquist, the project leader responsible for introducing TWI (Training Within Industry, ed.) as structured job training.

From side-by-side training to structured training

In line with virtually every other company, the company has previously used side-by-side training as a way of training employees, where positions and new employees are shifted. "Needless to say, side-by-side training gives some variation in learning, as the training depends on the worker currently training. Typically, the company has selected skilled workers to train. In TWI, we assume that the trainer is both good at the professional implementation of the process and also skilled at teaching. What is new is the training part. We want all employees to get qualified training so that the level of competence is raised and the processes are carried out uniformly between shifts, departments and factories," says Hanne Lundquist.

The management at Fertin Pharma chose TWI as a method because TWI has achieved good results in several Danish companies such as LEGO System A/S, Kopenhagen Fur, Odense Municipality, PostNord, etc., and since TWI's focus on standardizing processes matches Fertin Pharma's ambitions for uniform process performance, high efficiency and quality as well as deep understanding of GMP.

Halves errors and deviations

During the winter of 2015-16, the company has conducted a delimited pilot project with two trained job trainers who have trained coworkers in a few selected processes at a factory. The results of the pilot project have been a halving of the number of errors and deviations. Deviations may lead to production stoppage, which in turn may lead to high costs and, at worst, a whole batch of chewing gum to be discarded, as it cannot be approved by the FDA.

Therefore, there has been no doubt that the TWI process will be expanded in full in the two Danish factories and in the longer term probably in the Indian factory as well, as well as possibly in other functions such as laboratories and administrative units.

TWI requires thoroughness

"We have done a great deal of work recruiting the two job trainers. We have implemented an internal application process, where we have encouraged employees to apply and then selected two trainers with the proper professional profile and the right amount of empathy and robustness," says Hanne Lundquist.

According to Hanne Lundquist, job training requires a good insight into how different employees best learn new things, and inevitably there will also be emotional opposition from employees to the changes that are introduced. The job trainers must therefore be able to handle a bit of turbulence and concern.

"The job trainers have been trained by the TWI-certified institute Business Through People and the production managers, factory managers and CEO have been trained in TWI as well. It has been a good investment to train the managers as well as it has created a great understanding for and commitment from the management to the TWI project," says Hanne Lundquist. She emphasizes that one of the reasons for the success of the pilot project is that the TWI initiative is supported by everyone and at all levels of Fertin Pharma: "Everyone agrees and are prepared that TWI and structured job training is the way forward for us."

Hanne Lundquist emphasizes that TWI requires thoroughness in all dimensions: preparation, communication, selection and training of trainers and, not least, training and process confirmation of employees.

Facts about Fertin Pharma

Fertin Pharma is a world-leading manufacturer of pharmaceutical chewing gum owned by the Bagger-Sørensen Group, with headquarters in Vejle. The products are manufactured at two factories in Denmark and one in India, one of the factories being cGMP approved by the FDA. The company employs approximately 650 employees, operates several advanced development laboratories and had sales of 107.5 million euros in 2015.

What is TWI?

The TWI training system was founded by the US Department of War during World War II. The combination of labor recruitment to the military service and the need for significantly increased production capacity in industry created an urgent need for effective training of many new workers. As the need was urgent and the resources scarce in relation to the training challenge, the working party realized that the most effective and fastest way to implement a change was to provide the industry with tools to implement the changes themselves. And thus a training program was created with a unique train-the-trainer focus. Later, TWI formed the basis for kaizen in Lean as Toyota used TWI in the creation of the Toyota Production System, and after the war TWI was forgotten for many years in the United States, until a group of people rediscovered TWI around the end of the millennium. Today, TWI is widely used in US and European companies as an important complement to Lean and other process optimization programs.

Hanne Lundquist, Senior Consultant, Fertin Pharma A/S

Hanne is responsible for the implementation and TWI project management in the pharmaceutical production company Fertin Pharma A/S. In addition, Hanne has many years of experience in project management and implementation, as well as teaching Lean, teamwork, leadership development and competence development. Hanne has obtained a bachelor's degree in vocational training.