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Endress+Hauser Flowtec AG greatly simplified content creation for its authors
How Endress+Hauser Flowtec restructured its learning content for production workers and brought it all together in tt knowledge force.
For more than 35 years, Endress+Hauser Flowtec has achieved a top position among manufacturers of industrial flowmeters for liquids, gas and steam. We support you with our proven, top-quality flowmeters. You can always be sure that we will provide you with products which fit your specific measuring task. More than 1500 employees at six production facilities in Reinach (Switzerland), Cernay (France), Greenwood (USA), Aurangabad (India), Suzhou (China) and Itatiba (Brasil) assure this.
tts was asked to transfer existing content at the Reinach Division of Endress+Hauser Flowtec AG into tt knowledge force and to make consistent templates available to the customer’s authors for the creation of new content. The objective was to combine old and new content in a single database. The many and varied content topics should no longer be organised chronologically but rather according to processes, such as welding, calibration and assembly, making it easier to find similarly themed material. Equally important, a new approach to authorisation was required to regulate employee access to the content.
The existing content was in a variety of formats – for example in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. The structuring of text and graphics in these documents was also very heterogeneous, which meant that the learners had to re-orientate themselves every time. The challenge was to structure this disorderly content landscape, sort it by processes, bundle it and bring everything together in a central database.
“With tt knowledge force we are making the work of our authors easier and we are making it easier to access content. As a consequence the acceptance by our employees was very high from the start. The combination of our stringent quality processes and the intuitive-to-operate software from tts makes sustainable training possible at a high level.”
André Schober, Project Manager Reinach Division, Endress+Hauser Flowtec AG
The calibration manual in Word, welding training in Excel, one with two pictures, the other with five – this is how content looked at Endress+Hauser until mid-2013. Admittedly, the learning modules were of high quality in themselves, but because every author used a differ-ent template, employees always had to find their way round a new form of presentation. Moreover, the search for content wasted a lot of time, since it was posted in chronological order. Thus “Welding Basics” was listed as number 28, whereas the “Manual for Standards-compliant Joint Welding” first appears at number 53. Between the two came manuals for assembling machines, calibrating equipment and order planning.
“For our employees it was very confusing and laborious,” explains André Schober, Project Manager at Reinach Division of Endress+Hauser Flowtec AG. At the start of the migration project there were already more than 700 learning modules, which, in the absence of any structure, meant a lot of tedious searches for content.
And yet there had been a process-oriented structure in place within the company for some time – it was only in the training area that it had not been implemented. Therefore the project team looked for a partner from the e-learning sector to re-engineer and store the content in a way that would make it fast and easy for employees to work with. “Hardly anything had changed with our training and education system,” Schober says.
All of the training was written by practitioners for practitioners. tts was the selected partner. From that point on, new training documents were only produced with tt knowledge force. Updates, for example to cover new equipment, processes or changes to standards, were also made in tt knowledge force. Schober: “All content is now assigned to a single process environment.”
Free text searches make it easier to find content
Employees can also search for content according to specific criteria. “The learning modules are not simply used for the employees to work through, but also for use in practice,” Schober emphasises. If needed, the database serves as a reference book. “It was important for us above all that the trainers should be able to find the learning modules quickly and easily,” he explains. Given that the learners mostly work in production, and therefore have only limited access to a PC, the content is printed out and, if necessary, placed alongside the relevant machines and equipment.
“We did not want our workers simply to click through the content in front of a screen, as a theoretical exercise,” Schober emphasises. Rather, they should learn to perform steps in the work process directly at the workplace. Training on the job has a long tradition at Endress+Hauser Flowtec AG and the company was determined to stick to this tradition. “With learning at the workplace the trainer is in the best position to recognise if someone has understood the steps in the work process and can perform these on his own.”
Although for now only the 320 employees at Reinach Division will work with tt knowledge force, it was important for the customer that tts is globally active. “We have further factories in France, Brazil, China, India and the USA,” Schober says.
Overwhelming acceptance by employees
The rollout proceeded very smoothly. “We could install the system quickly and replace the old one,” Schober reports. Acceptance among employees was high from the start: “Everybody was waiting for a better solution”.
However, the new templates are not chiselled in stone: if it is clear that, for example, more pictures are needed for many training units, further placeholders can be inserted – but this is a decision that must be made centrally, and is applied to the templates in general. This cannot be compared with the earlier individual customisation.
Schober is especially pleased with the recording and re-recording of the processes that are performed by the production team (trainers). The users above all take advantage of the auto-matically created, printable step-by-step instructions.
Before the content is placed online it goes through strict quality testing: first the assembly support team (predominantly production engineers) test to see if the content is technically correct, then the quality coordinators (predominantly quality engineers) examine whether the training addresses the expertise guidelines.
Two years elapsed between the decision to structure the training more effectively and the go-live. In this time the company not only undertook a review and a requirements analysis, together with a search for vendors, but also defined all processes down to the lowest level, documented them and assigned learning content. The workshops on specifications, compulsory inputs, customising, changes, versioning, installation and evaluation lasted eight months.
The rollout followed at the end of 2013 – in November 2013 the first training of authors took place. Schober is delighted with the result: “Previously the templates varied enormously from one another. Now we finally have a professional IT environment that properly accommodates our installed learning processes.”
The system now enjoys a high level of “brand recognition” among end users thanks to its consistent structuring, symbols and graphics. When implementing new formats the authors no longer have to bring old content up to date, but rather, they can change the structures centrally.
The strict management of requests and objectives, as well as the bundling of content according to processes ensures that everyone finds what they want quickly. Thorough quality control at Endress+Hauser also means that all approved content meets the same criteria. Moreover, version control is crystal clear.