Industrial Maintenance Training Resources

Industrial Maintenance Training Resources
Resources

Vector Solutions provides training solutions, including a learning management system (LMS) and online training courses, to help training maintenance workers (both industrial maintenance and facilities maintenance). We offer courses on mechanical maintenance, electrical maintenance, facilities maintenance (HVAC, fire systems, plumbing, etc.), reliability, maintainability, preventive maintenance, total productive maintenance, and of course related essential topics, such as safety and health.

Our LMS and online maintenance training courses are a great addition to any maintenance training program, but in addition to offering these to our customers, we also write blogs like this one (and perform live webinars, etc.) to share information and resources for improving a training program: information about how people learn, tips for designing effective training, and so on.

In this article, we'll provide a series of helpful resources you can use to improve the maintenance training for maintenance workers at your workplace. We hope you find them helpful, we encourage you to provide your own maintenance-training tips and experiences in the comments, and we invite you to let us know if you have any additional questions.

Utilize Human Performance Improvement (HPI)

Sometimes training is the right solution for a problem. Sometimes it's not. Knowing when training can and can't help is a great first step towards (1) creating better training and (2) effectively improving performance problems at work.

Generally, training can help solve problems caused by a lack of worker knowledge and/or a lack of skills. But that's it. Training can't fix a broken work process or a failed incentive structure. So use training for knowledge and skill problems, and use other solutions for other problems.

Human performance improvement, or HPI, is a great tool to use to help determine if training is an appropriate solution or not (and, if not, what might be instead). HPI models begin with a strong emphasis on a "front-end analysis" in which you'll define the problem, determine the cause(s) of the problem, and THEN select an appropriate solution. Which, as noted, may or may not be training, depending on what the problem is.

If you'd like to learn more about human performance improvement at work, we've pulled together the following resources for you:

And in addition, you might really enjoy downloading this classic problem-analysis flowchart, based on the HPI classic by Mager and Pipe:

Use Systems Thinking for Systems Problems

Our workplaces are complex systems full of elements that interrelated, intersect, and influence one another--sometimes in unanticipated and even hidden ways.

Yet, while problem solving, we often forget that and think of things as if they exist in silos. Doing so often leads us to implement less-effective, even sometimes wrong, solutions for workplace problems because we're not seeing the big picture.

Systems thinking is a way to break down those silos, take a more holistic and big-picture view, and begin considering all those connections, interrelationships, and influences amongst the elements of your workplace system that are influencing performance problems.

We've got more for you about systems thinking for workplace performance improvement at the article below:

Consider Job Aids

Training can be great, and as mentioned earlier, it can help solve problems dealing with a lack of knowledge or skills.

But training is still expensive and difficult to design and deliver, and even after that expense there's no guarantee people will remember the training and apply it at the moment of need on the job.

That's where job aids and other forms of performance support come in. Sometimes it's easier to just create a job aid (think of a paper-based checklist at a machine or a video a worker can access on a mobile device when and where it's needed on the job) than it is to create training. And sometimes the job aid will provide better end results than training would. And still other times, maybe you'll find you're create training and a job aid and your training will include instructions on how to use the job aid while performing the job task.

You can read and learn more about job aids here:

Models of How People Learn

If your job involves helping people learn how to perform maintenance tasks on the job, it's helpful to understand how we learn and how we remember and later retrieve information.

One classic model of how this works in the information processing model, in which information (sometimes, when it's done right) passes through our sensor memory, our working memory, is integrated into schemas in our long-term memory, and is later retrieved from long-term memory when it's needed on the job.

If you design your training with this process in mind, including its limitations (see our article on cognitive load for more on this), it's much more likely that your training will be effective and that it will result in improve maintenance performance on your organization's equipment and machines.

Here's some more information about how we remember, forget, and transfer information:

ADDIE--Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement & Evaluate

To put it simply, if you decide you need to create some training, then you just open up PowerPoint and begin hammering on your keyboard, you're doing it wrong.

Instructional designers use different training design & development models to work through the important aspects of training development in a formulaic, systematic, systemic process. There are many of those models, and no one model is necessarily better than the others, but certainly the most well-known and commonly used is the ADDIE training design model.

ADDIE is an acronym that stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. If your job involves training, you should be familiar with and consider using ADDIE.

You can learn more about the ADDIE training and design model here:

We've also got an ADDIE infographic for you to download, below.

Start with Performance-Based Learning Objectives

At the heart of all well-crafted job training are learning objectives.

Learning objectives, and in particular performance-based learning objectives, are observable performances you want the learners to be able to do at the end of training. If workers can complete the learning objective when training is over, the training was successful (at least to that point) and they're ready to begin applying the new skills in their job performances. If the workers can't perform the learning objective, the training wasn't effective (at least not yet) and there's more work to do.

When you're creating your learning objectives, ask yourself what the purpose of your training is. What do workers need to do on the job when training is over? Those are your learning objectives. Then create a test that workers can complete after training so they can demonstrate that they can perform the learning objective. Then designing training, including content and activities, to help the workers learn to perform the learning objective. In a nutshell, that's the training game.

We've got more about learning objectives for you here:

And even better, we've got a downloadable guide to writing learning objectives for you here:

Using Training Practices that Evidence Shows Are Effective

Many fields have a body of research that has led to evidence-based practices. The same is true with training. We have research, studies, and data that tell us things that improve learning during training (and performance after training) and things that don't. We call those things that assist learning evidence-based training practices.

Here are just a few evidence-based training practices:

  • Developing learning objectives during training design
  • Awakening the prior knowledge of workers in training sessions
  • Using blended learning approaches (more on this below)
  • Chunking training into small, bite-sized pieces (this helps to reduce unnecessary cognitive load)
  • Using guided demonstrations, providing opportunities for practice, and providing feedback
  • Deliberate practice for skill development and the creation of expertise
  • Desirable difficulties (such as interleaving)
  • Spaced practice/spaced retrieval
  • Many more (see works by Patti Shank, Will Thalheimer, Mirjam Neelan, Clark Quinn, Julie Dirksen, and many others to learn more)

That research has also identified things that don't seem to work during training, including things that many people THINK help during training even though they don't. These are known as "learning myths" and probably the most common one has to do with so-called learning styles (often expressed around an idea that we're all a kinesthetic, visual, or auditory learner).

We've got even more about evidence-based training practices and so-called learning myths for you here:

Use Blended Learning for Improved Results

A blended learning solution uses more than one training delivery method. For example, the most common type of blend includes an online learning activity (maybe an elearning course or a video) followed up by instructor-led classroom training. Evidence has shown that learning blends lead to better training results.

Our recommendation when crafting learning blends is to pick the training delivery method for each activity that will best allow the worker to satisfy the learning objective for that activity. It's also useful to keep in mind when and where the worker might

We've got more on blended learning for you in the guide below.

Developing a Maintenance Tech Training Program

We routinely work with organizations like yours to help train their maintenance staff. Whether it's new employee onboarding, continued skill development, career path of progression, compliance training, or training on issues such as Total Productive Maintenance, Maintainability, or Reliability, we're there to assist our partners with our learning management system, elearning courses, and more.

Not so long ago, our valued customer CBRE chose to partner with us to help solve a series of related problems they were having (there's that handy systems thinking idea again!). They wanted to improve the current maintenance tech training program they had in place for a variety of reasons. They felt it would make it easier for them to hire qualified candidates (it did). They thought it would assist in increasing employee retention (it did). They thought it would lead to a more knowledgeable and skilled workforce that was better able to perform maintenance tasks correctly and safely (it did). And they thought it would lead to improved employee morale and engagement (it did).

They also wanted it to help them create a maintenance tech certification program--which they did and which has been very successful for them.

Learn more about this in the recorded, on-demand webinar below:

Maintenance, Maintainability, Reliability & Organizational Learning

In a webinar we hosted recently with our partners at the University of Tennessee's Reliability & Maintainability Center, Dr. Klaus Blache explained how organizational learning, including but not limited to training, is at the root of successful efforts to improve maintainability and reliability at organizations.

To learn more, please listen to the recorded, on-demand webinar:

You might also enjoy the two follow infographics on maintainability and reliability:

You can also download that second infographic right here:

Add Online Training to Your Maintenance Training Program

We've already mentioned that blended learning solutions, like those that include online training as well as face-to-face, instructor-led training, can lead to more positive training outcomes and job performance.

If your organization would like to consider adding online training capabilities to your current maintenance training programs, one good first step is to begin a little research so you'll understand the basic technologies, terms, and training tips for selecting and using online training wisely.

To that end, we encourage you to download our Guide to Selecting & Using Online Maintenance Training (click the big button below) and/or listening to our recorded, on-demand webinar on Selecting & Using Online Maintenance Training.

Summary: We Hope These Resources Help You with Your Organization's Maintenance Training Efforts

We hope you found this collection of resources related to maintenance training and learning helpful. Let us know if you have additional comments or questions.

If you'd like to learn more about how to implement online maintenance training at your facility, give us a shout and we'll be happy to set up a demo or preview and answer your questions.

Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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