Best Practices returns to the subject of employee training this month — and we go to Milwaukee and a global company called HellermannTyton, which makes cable management systems that bundle together and help organize and protect all that cabling in our cars, trucks and data communications products — practically everything. Plastics plays a key role.
It created the HellermannTyton Academy in Milwaukee, where the company employs about 700 people in multiple factories. HTA has classroom instruction, a computer lab and, for the plastics operations, a full suite of interactive products from Paulson Training Programs Inc.
"We've got the resources here for people who come off the production floor to do training," said Danny Sheeran, training department supervisor.
Sheeran tells Best Practices that HellermannTyton has a three-person training department, and the company is looking to add a fourth person. That's a major commitment to training, something that all companies should do.
In plastics processing, HellermannTyton in Milwaukee runs five injection molding machines in a mold trial area and does production on 100 injection presses in another building. Another nearby location has four extrusion lines.
According to Sheeran, having a dedicated, standardized training program like Paulson's has helped build a productive team. The company's metrics used to quantify production efficiency and productivity have made significant improvements. Sheeran said those metrics include cycle time, scrap and downtime.
Another benefit is employee recruitment, retention and engagement, Sheeran said: "When we tell potential applicants that HellermannTyton has an industry-leading training program, they're more likely to apply, making it easier for us to find the best candidates."
It's so hard to find employees. Best Practices has heard countless times how companies—large and small—try to foster a "career path" for promising new hires. Training is a good way to show you're serious.
HellermannTyton's upper management buys into the effort, which is key to the success of any training program. "We've got total support and backing from our management here as far as resources for training," Sheeran said.
Sheeran, a 30-year veteran of HellermannTyton, has been the training supervisor for two years. He said training is strategically integrated into the company's everyday operations, starting with onboarding new employees.
"Generally speaking, incoming technicians start on first shift and are enrolled in a very structured, extensive two-month training program that includes Paulson as well as computer-based and hands-on training," he said. Then the employees move to the shift for which they were hired.
At the HellermannTyton Academy, more than 80 employees are signed up for the Paulson training, enrolled or are in process. More than 20 employees have achieved Paulson certification. The Paulson videos, graphics and 3D animations show what's happening inside the mold.
For employees to pass their initial training and progress through Paulson's modules, they have to score 80 percent or better on the post-training tests, which are an integral part of the Paulson system. Paulson Training Programs is based in Chester, Conn.
And Sheeran said the plastics know-how is important, even for HellermannTyton employees not involved in day-to-day plastics processing.
"Training in plastics processing is given to all company job functions, including those jobs that feel disconnected from the shop floor," he said. "It's been very positive for those groups, and it gives them a good understanding of parts production so they can better engage with our customers."