Three months with TWI at Post Danmark results in satisfied end customers and higher quality

If you want to get better at your work on the production line, you just ask a colleague, right? Training Within Industry (TWI) is the missing link to Lean, which faces off against the classic and usually unsustainable side-by-side learning or the belief that you can just send an email with the new standard - and then hope that employees will read and follow it.

Written by Henrik Nordstrøm Mortensen, freelancer at P360
Published at: effektivitet.dk
Date: 2014
Link to article

Post Danmark is one of the companies working with TWI Job Instruction (JI). This takes place in the Pakkeproduktion unit in Fredericia and Brøndby, where TWI JI is being implemented. In September, the TWI JI training method was introduced here for learning how to sort packages correctly and fill a package container completely - with as few holes as possible. And already, Post Danmark has increased its filling rate quite remarkably in the pilot area. The internal TWI consultants in Pakkeproduktion, among which can be mentioned Karen Stenholt, have trained the managers and job trainers in using the TWI JI method. These managers and job trainers have just completed the training of employees in the pilot area.

"We have increased the filling rate in our package containers by more than 10 percent in the pilot area. This means fewer package containers, which in turn means transport savings and enhanced sorting quality," says Karen Stenholt.

This article is the second of three articles about Post Danmark's implementation of TWI here at p360.dk in collaboration with efficiency.dk. You can read the first story through this link. In the articles, we follow the company's implementation of TWI from preparation, pilot project and maintenance of TWI JI in its daily operations.

The community improves customer experience

Thus, according to the internal TWI consultant, the company has strengthened its competitiveness by using the TWI training. This is because the company has started out in small stages:

"We have concentrated our TWI effort into a pilot area to be able to accurately track the results of the specific processor, thereby proving the effect of TWI. We definitely recommend others who want to train with TWI JI to start out in pilot areas as well. Our partners in the rest of Post Danmark report that they are experiencing a positive development in the filling of the package containers, which consequently makes work easier for them. At the same time, we are further improving the quality for our customers," says Karen Stenholt.

As one of the internal TWI consultants, Karen Stenholt has been coaching job trainers in using TWI JI. The pilot project currently comprises 100 employees in both Fredericia and Brøndby. The company is now going from training two pilot teams in each center to expansion with several teams. Three months after starting out with the two pilot teams, Post Danmark expanded with another two teams in each center. Altogether, the plan is that approximately 500 employees in Pakkeproduktion will be trained according to the TWI JI training method.

"We have trained in the pilot areas and seen the results. Working according to the TWI JI method and the 7-step implementation model has given value. We are now looking forward to continuing with TWI JI in new areas with more job trainers and planning the startup of TWI Job Relations," says Karen Stenholt.  

Answers the question: why

One of the biggest driving forces of TWI JI in a production context is that the individual employee to a higher degree will get answers to why his or her job is worth gold for the company. Karen Stenholt follows up:

"We can see on the individual employees who have been trained according to the TWI JI training method that they are doing better, focus more on their own and their colleagues' safety and follow the standards. And at the same time, they have become more conscientious about their work because they now know why the task and their efforts are important both for the customer and for the company. This means that TWI helps creating a good development in our behavior and working culture," she says.

John Vellema is the founder of the company Business Through People, an official partner with the TWI Institute in New York, USA. He teaches managers, job trainers and internal consultants how to master the tools of TWI and ensure good implementation of them. He confirms the lift that TWI can provide in terms of increased safety, quality and productivity through the focus of managers, job trainers and then employees on raising competencies and motivation.

"TWI JI is about developing and maintaining the professional skills of both managers, job trainers and employees. In the TWI JI course, we learn that 'if the learner has not learned, the trainer has not taught'", says John Vellema, explaining:

"And it is based on this mantra that we train managers and job trainers in training employees to do their jobs correctly, safely and conscientiously. In order for both managers, internal consultants and job trainers to be able to anchor TWI in the company culture, they need the support, the time and the tools to be able to influence the organization."

He refers to an American SHINGO analysis showing that 85 percent of all Lean projects fail. Therefore, Post Danmark's good effects after three months are quite unique. This is because Post Danmark has spent a lot of work on the entire preparation process. The important thing now is to maintain focus in the continued rollout and transition to daily operations. Karen Stenholt has the following to say:

"As we follow the TWI JI structure, there is a strong focus on 'why' we perform the task according to the standard. In addition, TWI JI will also greatly contribute to us collecting and processing the good improvement proposals that our employees have. In order for a standardized learning process to be meaningful and anchored, it is important that 'the silent gold' comes out of the pockets."

Requires repetition and patience

The system behind TWI JI is maintained at Post Danmark by the manager process-confirming employees three times over two months at the beginning and then quarterly. This also gives the manager a unique opportunity to talk specifically about the work processes with the individual employee and not least acknowledge the good work that the employees perform.

According to Karen Stenholt, one of the biggest challenges of working with TWI JI is that, at the beginning, employees may very well see the method as a sign that they are not sufficiently proficient. However, it has been found that after training, many of the experienced employees have become motivated and come up with a number of good improvement proposals. Furthermore, many employees are very pleased that everyone is now learning the task in the same way as opposed to the previous side-by-side learning.

Therefore, it is important to explain clearly early in the process why working according to working standards benefits everyone. It raises safety and quality – thus reducing costs.

"It's about being patient in the preparation phase as well as forwards. Our experience is that the better the preparation, the better the organization will embrace the changes. Because you don't just change hundreds of people's ways to work from one day to another. Again, it's important to answer the question: 'Why are we doing this?'" says Karen Stenholt.

John Vellema concludes by saying:

"Many find their way to the TWI JI programs after working with Lean for quite some time. Mainly because their improvement efforts have not been maintained. With TWI, you don't just send an email to your organization with new standards. Here, you use professional training to anchor the process. I look forward to following the project as it goes from pilot project to further rollout and operation."