The Festo Didactic train-the-trainer program at Kautex Textron

May 9, 2018

"Those who do not invest in the knowledge of their employees automatically lose productivity"

- Eduard Busenus, Manager Blow Mold Trial Center

If companies want to meet changing market conditions and the needs of their customers, they must evolve, recognize opportunities and drive innovation. However, a high level of productivity requires not only new technology solutions, but also a high level of employee knowledge. If the know-how in the field of process technology is up to date, technicians can detect faults early, design maintenance scenarios in advance and correctly assess their own abilities during machine downtime. We, one of the leading international automotive suppliers, identified early and took sustainable measures. About two years ago, when it came to identifying an increased need for knowledge among process engineers and process engineers, Kautex initiated a train-the-trainer program with Festo Didactic.

Competence increases productivity

"It all started with the question of how we can train our process and process engineers to be even more independent in terms of pneumatics and hydraulics," says Eduard Busenus, Manager Blow Mold Trial Center, describing the initial situation at Kautex.

The training and education expert realized that regular investment in state-of-the-art automation hardware required training sessions to keep machine and plant performance consistently high.

With the permanent further development of technologies, the knowledge of the workers and those responsible on the shop floor must also keep pace.

"We identified a clear need for our engineers to understand components and new technologies," explains Eduard, "and wanted to empower our people to be better at troubleshooting, active troubleshooting, and implementing sustainable maintenance plans."

In particular, the assessment of when it makes sense to remedy a problem by itself or to request external support from experts, may decide on a plant shutdown of a few minutes or a few hours.

When it came to finding a competent partner for trainings in the areas of process automation in general and pneumatics and hydraulics in particular, Festo Didactic was chosen. And for a very specific reason: their holistic approaches.

"For us it was important to get the entire handling of further training from a single source. Including hardware ", Eduard describes the main motivation of Kautex to cooperate with Festo. Internationality also played a role here. While the conception phase was to take place at the European headquarters in Bonn, the subsequent pilot and rollout phase was planned for the Lavonia site in Georgia, USA.

A 360-degree solution

For Klaus Zimmermann, Head of Training and Consulting at Festo, Kautex's high standards in terms of a 360-degree solution were the main attractions of the project.

"We were able to bring in our entire service portfolio in order to maximize the benefits for our customers," Klaus explains. "It was important for us not only to make Kautex employees ready for handling our products in the future, but also to provide them with important skills in the fundamentals of pneumatics so that they could better fulfill their tasks as maintenance staff."

"We were able to bring in our entire service portfolio in order to achieve the highest possible customer benefit."

- Klaus Zimmermann, Head of Training and Consulting at Festo Didactic

Train the trainer in the USA

train the trainer in the USA

During the conception phase at the Bonn location, the training requirements of the employees were first determined. It was important for the Festo experts to understand who worked in practice with Festo products and what the users' level of knowledge was.

"After determining the requirements, we took the typical tasks of a process technician at Kautex and derived small, practicable training content and units. This allowed us to create a curriculum that the trainers at Kautex were able to implement well, " Klaus explains. For this purpose, a seminar program was designed, which included a combination of professional qualification and the development and development of methodological competence. As part of the implementation in the US, a core group of ten coaches and lead coaches was qualified, who could pass their knowledge specifically to the operational staff.

Different prior knowledge is not a problem

For the implementation in the USA, the contents and methods of the training were designed so that they reached production staff with different knowledge requirements. "At international level, we encounter different levels of education that we need to harmonize," explains Eduard Busenus. The tailor-made training for different addressees has been completely successful with Festo Didactic's seminars. "Our internal trainers got a lot of practical knowledge to pass on to their employees," Eduard says. In order to prepare the trainers and technicians for the application of simple to complex tasks in pneumatics and hydraulics, a tailor-made teaching and learning hardware has been installed.

Employees are more self-confident

Following the completion of the train-the-trainer measures at the end of 2016, the rollout was started in Kautex's US facilities. With noticeable success, as Eduard Busenus reports: "The general feedback on our trainings is completely positive. The trained staff perform better. They are more communicative, actively participate, explain things to each other, work together even better and approach new and familiar situations with greater self-confidence."

For him, the blow-molding qualification expert at Kautex, this forms the bridge between the goals of his company and the daily tasks of the employees. He is convinced that the expansion of competencies will soon be measurable in terms of plant performance.

This article was contributed by Eduard Busenus, Manager Blow Mold Trial Center, and Festo Didactic.

A German version of this article has been published in Festo Didactic’s Magazine “Trends in Automation 01.2018”