An Overview of TWI
Training Within Industry is a program originally developed to service the needs of the United States government in a climate of rapid change and constantly increasing demands during the war. The system was lean and tightly structured, and it produced some amazing results, which makes it a bit unusual that we seem to have forgotten all about it nowadays.
The truth is, TWI is still all around us, just in different forms. Its core philosophies have still managed to find their way inside the industry, and various companies have started to rediscover the huge benefits attached to following TWI.
What is TWI all about?
There are some different implementations of TWI around us, and depending on who you ask, you might get slightly different results. But in the end, there are some principles that are common across all interpretations.
A common theme in most iterations of TWI is the 4-step method, which boils down to these important steps:
- Job Instruction (JI) training – How to teach a person to do a job correctly, safely, and conscientiously
It’s important that a standardized system is developed for introducing new employees to the job. Job instruction training revolves around providing the supervisors in the company with an adequate set of tools that can help them get everyone up to speed as quickly as possible.
This stage often involves gathering a lot of feedback from the new employees being trained, as well as the supervisors themselves. It’s one of the critical steps in ensuring a smooth workflow in an organization with a large turnover rate.
- Job Methods (JM) Training – How to analyze jobs to make the best use of the people, machines, and materials currently available
Improving the working methodologies of the company is everyone’s task, and supervisors should be trained in this more than anyone else. It falls largely on their shoulders to ensure that the methods employed by the company are in line with current market trends, as well as that they make sense when one looks at the big picture.
- Job Relations (JR) Training – How to build positive employee relations, increase cooperation and motivation, and effectively resolve and prevent people problems
Job relations used to take a backseat in the way companies were ran in the past, but this is changing fast. It’s becoming much more important for organizations to realize the importance of resolving workplace conflicts easily and efficiently, which is why job relations training should be an integral part of any company’s educational process.
- Job Safety (JS) Training – How to identify the direct and indirect causes of incidents and injuries and prevent them from happening
Safety training is one of the areas that companies traditionally pay very little attention to, until the actual need arises (usually after the fact). Job safety is critical in ensuring that the company can recover from faults quickly, and that it can operate efficiently, even when someone isn’t following the rules as accurately as they should be. If done properly, job safety training can prevent accidents and harm.
Standardizing the process
A critical point in applying TWI correctly is ensuring that all processes involved in the workflow are standardized, and that the company is constantly evaluated according to those standards. This can sometimes lead to a temporary reduction in productivity, as the new requirements are being implemented, but it will ultimately help make the process a lot smoother and more trouble-free.
Standardization can also help reduce errors in the workflow. When it’s known exactly how the output of any given step of the process must look like, it becomes much easier to spot problems and to identify their root cause.
Like any lean philosophy, TWI is strongly concerned with eliminating waste from the workflow, and ensuring that all efforts invested into the work are put towards a productive end. This once again comes down mainly to listening to the opinions of low-level workers and implementing their feedback appropriately.
This works because those workers will often have the ability to spot issues with the way the workflow of the company is structured better than anyone else, and they should be recognized as the eyes and ears of upper-level management.
This is precisely where some modern organizational structures tend to fail, and why TWI is gaining so much popularity in modern times, despite being a relatively old concept.
A classic with a new coat of paint
The reason TWI has been able to shine again today probably has to do with the proper development of lean methodologies and their advance into modern manufacturing principles. There are certain elements of TWI that were developed and fleshed out better in recent years, compared to the original first iteration of the philosophy, and this has probably done a lot to boost its popularity.
TWI can have many benefits on the workflow of a modern organization when applied correctly. The core ideas behind it will probably keep evolving slightly over the next few years, but the fundamentals are sound and can be implemented in any size company.
Does your organization practice TWI? What results have you seen? Add your comments below…