Archive for September, 2011

2011 Outlook for Manufacturers is Bright

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

As the last months of 2011 near, many manufacturers have considered what the remainder of the year will look like for their industry. The ups and downs of the economy have surely wearied us all, however things are looking bright for some manufacturers in the United States. With a positive outlook on revenue, employment and growth, industrial manufacturers may be in for a treat. The New York Times article, “Factory Field Trip” provides an insight into the struggles and achievements of Gray Construction and examines the importance of quality industrial training as well as how having trained workers with the appropriate skill sets for their trade may help turn the industry around.

A leading buying consortium for manufacturers, Prime Advantage, released the results of its 8th Prime Advantage Group Outlook Survey. Prime Advantage surveys executives and purchasing professionals that represent manufacturing firms with annual revenues stretching from $10 million to $1 billion. The firms embody U.S. based manufacturers in more than 25 different industries including commercial food service, material handling and construction. The results of the survey showed solid growth projections for the remainder of 2011. The manufacturers surveyed are said to have taken a leap of faith and heavily invested in product development during the economic downturn. As a result, nearly 40 % claim new products and customers are stimulating growth and expect revenues to increase in the remaining months of 2011. Only 13 % forecast a drop in revenues due to expected slowing in particular markets. Almost 80% of those surveyed say capital spending on items such as property or equipment would either increase or stay the same. 36% claim employment rates will increase, while 52% expect them to stay the same. The graph below depicts the revenue expectations for manufacturers over the past year.

ITC Learning’s online industrial training courseware offers in depth training for your all industrial employees. We offer a variety of training courses, including maintenance training, control training, process training, hydraulic training, air compressor training and many more. Whatever your business expectations are for the remainder of the year, your employees should be appropriately trained for their trade. And with properly trained employees your business will grow exponentially.

Click here, to read the full article, “Factory Field Trip”

Safety First

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

When it comes to industrial trades, safety should be the number one concern for all employers and employees. Working in plants, on site and with heavy machinery are risky jobs. Often industrial workers come in contact with harsh chemicals, electrical circuits and dangerous tools on a daily basis. Because of the nature of their work relevant safety training is essential to the well-being of your staff and your business.

Proper maintenance and operation of on the job equipment is critical to avoid injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that on average, for every 100 full-time workers, 4.3 non-fatal occupational injuries are reported in the manufacturing industry. In an effort to protect workers from injury and illness in high-hazard workplaces, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an annual inspection plan under the Site-Specific Targeting 2011 (SST-11) program. The program will inspect non-construction workplaces with more than 20 employees. Establishments are randomly selected from a list of more than 3,700 manufacturing and non-manufacturing facilities. The OSHA will inspect all facets of each establishment’s operations to determine how effective their safety and health efforts are.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 has made employers responsible for providing their employees with safe and healthy working conditions. Employers can do so by providing personnel with safeguards and safety devices. They can post warnings and hazards as well as offer education and industrial training programs.

Unfortunately, accidents in the workplace are often unavoidable, especially when workers are dealing with hazardous equipment and materials. However, measures can be taken to help thwart those that are caused by careless mistakes and improper training. ITC learning is dedicated to training industrial employees so they can gain the proper knowledge required to operate equipment safely and correctly. Protect your business and your employees by investing in ITC’s online skills training courseware.

Image courtesy of & Simon Howden

Make the most out of Training your Industrial Employees

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

While training new and existing staff will benefit the output of your employees, the ultimate objective is to maximize your return on investment. In order to do so, your company must assure those being trained understand the goals of your business and how advancing their skill sets will be critical to your company’s success as well as their own. Below are a few tips to enhance the online training experience for your employees as well as increase the chances their new skills are effectively retained and applied.

1. Clearly state your goals

By clearly defining your business goals, your employees will know exactly what is expected of them and how their training skills will apply to their daily work.

2. Offer guidance

Sometimes we forget that even adult learners need instruction. By offering your trainees support and coaching, their industrial skills training is likely to be more effective and run smoothly. With almost 70% of jobs requiring some form of training, it is important that your employees are not only properly trained but are also able to reach out to a supervisor if they are lost or confused.

3. Give your employees the opportunity to showcase their new skills

Nothing is more frustrating than spending the time to learn something and then never getting the chance to demonstrate your newly acquired skills. Make sure the industrial skills you teach your employees are relevant to their work and encourage your staff to utilize them on a daily basis.  An important skill many industrial workers must have is the ability to identify and solve problems. If properly trained, workers should ask questions and investigate problems to ensure your machinery is operating to its full potential.

4. Monitor your newly trained employees

Your employees may have recently expanded their industrial knowledge, but they are still new to the application of their skills. Monitoring their performance and assuring they have the opportunity to apply these skills will continue to help them learn and improve their skill sets.

5. Measure results

The goal of investing in skills training is to increase your bottom line. Once your employees are adequately trained and monitored, measure the results. Has their performance improved? Are they utilizing their skills properly and when necessary? Having your management address these questions and measure their output before and after training will prove to you investing in industrial training can greatly benefit your business.

ITC Learning strives to make training and retraining industrial employees easy and effective. Our online courseware is user friendly and allows you to track the progress of your employees. Click here, to learn more about the online industrial training programs ITC has to offer.

Image courtesy of & Renjith Krishnan

Ensure Your Employees’ Skills are as Current as Your Equipment

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

As technology continues to evolve the manufacturing industry is sure to follow. Computers and robotics have undoubtedly changed the industry and in some ways made it more accurate and efficient. The Association for Manufacturing Technology and The American Machine Tool Distributors Association reported that in July of this year, manufacturing technology consumption amounted to more than $500 million dollars. The amount shows a 93% increase from July of 2010, when machine tool sales totaled around $260 million. Overall, sales have gone up an astonishing 102.9% from 2010. AMTDA’s president says that the ups and downs of the stock market have had little to no effect on the demand for new machinery in plants. He predicts that eventually this pace will slow as orders are fulfilled, however in the meantime business is booming. Regionally, the Midwest has seen the greatest success with sales reaching $159.26 million. While the Northern region reached just over $75 million. The increase in manufacturing technology consumption may shed a light of hope on the condition of the industry’s economic standing, allowing it to continue to improve and develop more advanced systems.

With machine tool sales doing so well, manufacturers must ensure their employees are properly trained to operate and oversee their updated equipment. Just like the evolution of the industry the training skills of industrial employees must progress as well. ITC Learning is devoted to ensuring your staff is duly trained so they can operate the newest technologies in your plant safely and correctly. Inadequate training can result in injuries in the workplace. While accidents cannot be predicted, together we can do our best to ensure they are prevented. Not only is proper operation of your machinery important to your business’ success but also the maintenance of your tools. ITC’s online industrial training aims to help your staff maintain an advanced knowledge base of new and basic skills. We also offer maintenance training to ensure the upkeep of your equipment is performed properly and regularly. Protect your business, your employees and your equipment by investing in ITC’s skills training courseware.

To read the full report released by USMTO, click here.

Image courtesy of & Suat Eman

More Training Means More Jobs

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

The Association for Manufacturing Excellence has been a driving force behind the Rebirth of Manufacturing Jobs initiative. The project hopes to stimulate the manufacturing job market by reaching out to policy makers locally and nationally. The goal of the program is to get executives and government officials motivated to join and develop efforts to increase awareness of the green movement and manufacturing’s goal in it. It also aims to unite nearby businesses into groups, also called consortia. The objective of the consortia is to increase productivity and solve problems linked to regulations, access to resources and lack of a well trained work force. The end result will hopefully revitalize the industry’s business and increase the demand for skilled industrial workers. However, the government will need to take a stand for this initiative to be successful. By building awareness first and eventually a framework and infrastructure, policy makers will allow consortiums to create a network of productive and environmentally conscious manufacturers.

Over the years manufacturing jobs have rarely been hard to fill. However, with budget cuts and downsizing as a result of the recession taking a toll on the industry, reports show that nearly 32% of manufacturers found it difficult to fill jobs due to lack of skill and improper training. While there are plenty of workers with experience, many lack extensive training that can become a determining factor in the selection process.

ITC Learning is dedicated to training and retraining industrial employees. Our interactive courseware and easy to use management software are ideal for any business. As the economy inches towards recovery, well trained workers will become an important commodity to all manufacturers. Adequate training and advanced skill sets will make workers more marketable in the job market and more likely to land a job in the industry.

Government Programs Hopeful to Generate Manufacturing Jobs

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

On Wednesday, September 7, 2011 the United States House of representatives voted to extend the trade program known as the Generalized System of Programs. The renewed program, which expired last year, allows tax-free entry for approximately 4,800 products from 130 developing countries. The renewal will extend the 35 year old bill through July of 2013 and will reimburse U.S. importers for any levies paid since the beginning of the year.

This bill could potentially pave the way for congressional approval of three free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama in hopes of creating more jobs for Americans. President Obama supports the free trade bills, however has been holding off on submitting them to Congress until he is sure he will gain votes towards the workers aid program.

Before the recess in August, a few senators mentioned they agreed with both the free trade bills and the Trade Adjustment Assistant program, which provides job seeking assistance and benefits to workers who lost their jobs due to a move in production to outside the U.S. The program’s assistance for firms provides financial assistance to manufacturers who have also been affected by the import rivalry.  However, some Republicans are skeptical about the Trade Adjustment Assistance because it is expensive.

The free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama could potentially escalate U.S. exports by about $10 billion per year. They may also aid the industry in generating more than 250,000 jobs for Americans. More than half of the tax free imports included in the free trade bill are raw materials, parts and machinery used for manufacturing products in the U.S.

By expanding export coverage the U.S will likely produce more manufacturing jobs for Americans and decrease the unemployment rate of the industry.

How SCORM Can Benefit Your Business

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

When researching ways in which web-based industrial training will benefit your business you will learn about the many advantages of online courseware, like ITC’s. Some of the major returns on investment include an increase in safety knowledge among your employees and the opportunity to further their trade education as a means to increase your company’s productivity and efficiency. While these advantages are crucial to the advancement of your business, considering the structure of the actual courseware you plan on purchasing is just as important.

Today, SCORM (Sharable Content Reference Model) is an essential tool when it comes to e learning. Simply put, it is a technical standard that manages how online training courseware is developed and delivered to students. It dictates the stipulations for developing web-based learning material (i.e. what software language to use) and ensures any content that meets the SCORM standards is compatible with your Learning management System (LMS). The Learning Management System allows SCORM to communicate with the actual instructional material and share its contents across multiple platforms. Ultimately, SCORM permits your online courseware to be delivered quicker and at a lower cost. All ITC courseware is SCORM compliant and our LMS is designed to simplify directing your e learners to the appropriate courseware, monitoring their progress and tracking their scores.

The intentions of SCORM are to make online courseware accessible, adjustable, affordable, durable, interoperable and reusable for the following reasons:

  • SCORM allows users to pinpoint instructional materials from one location and share them with multiple locations.
  • Organizations are able to modify online courseware depending on individual and organizational needs.
  • With SCORM, your company can increase online training productivity by decreasing the time and costs of distributing courseware content. Since the software is compatible with all SCORM compliant Learning Management Systems (LMS’s), it also reduces the chance of needing costly upgrades or redesigns.
  • Regardless of how technology changes, your web-based training materials will maintain compatibility through the use of SCORM.
  • SCORM allows users to manage instructional content developed in one place and share it across multiple platforms. In other words, your courseware can run on different LMS’s.
  • With SCORM, instructors or managers can pull modules and content from different courseware and reassign them to new lessons or utilize them in a different context.

By using online courseware that is SCORM compliant, like ITC Learning’s, you can remain confident your industrial employees will receive the proper training for their trade through manageable and easily accessible content.