Free or almost free training” Ah the holy training grail we have been looking for. Does it work? Sure if you spend the time up front to build it into your plan and have clear expectations for what it can and can not do. I suggest it not be used as your core craftman skills training, but it works great as a refresher courses. Chances are you company’s preferred vendors will provide training on anything from belt installation to lubrication practices. We also had some experience with smaller regional vendors such as nut and bolt suppliers. They can help with proper fastener application and torque as an example. The only drawback is that you must really pay attention to the material that the vendor wants to present to avoid too much sales propaganda. I have used many different vendors for this type of training and I have only had one that turned out to be there for a sales pitch. Using the seven rules below we caught this before wasting the craft’s time in the session. The seven keys to success with the vendors training includes the following:
1. Try to have the vendor bring in their technical people and not just the sales guy.
2. Make it clear that the maintenance staff is not the purchasing department and a whole lot of sales hype will be futile.
3. Ask the vendor if he has done sessions like this before.
4. Review agenda ahead of time and suggest topics of interest to your group.
5. Always give the vendor a tour of the plant prior to the presentation so that he can speak to the types of equipment that you have and the problems you face.
6. Make sure you talk with the presenter ahead of time to make sure he has a certain level of charisma and presentation skills or bring pillows for the sleeping technicians.
7. If you are worried about a vendor then have them do two sessions the same day and you and a few others attend the first session before committing a larger portion of the maintenance group to the second one.
Free training can work to satisfy many of the basic training needs especially refreshers that are required to keep us competitive as long as just like any other part of your training program you put in the work up front.