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By Joel Leonard, contributing editor
In this interview, Martin Tauber, a facility maintenance technician at a large food processing facility, shares how his company is continually informing its staff via a monitor in their break room.
Joel Leonard: Tell me how you use your video monitor. What do you show?
Martin Tauber: We show the videos that I’ve recorded of vendor training classes that we try to host once a month, and manufacturers' reps’ training classes whenever we get a new piece of production equipment. Some videos are 15 minutes long, others two hours, and, of course, now we show Skill TV segments in the rotation. I’ve been recording training sessions for approximately two years now and have a “Maintenance CD Reference Library” that includes webcasts, training classes and safety videos
JL: How do you choose what to show?
MT: I’ve videoed all our training classes and have a library for maintenance reference. If I see a video that I think is worthwhile to show the team, I download it from the Web. I have the necessary programs to download videos from YouTube on my personal laptop, so I download them at home, convert them to a Windows format and load them into the computer’s video folder with a thumb drive. Then, every week I change the programming lineup. In the beginning with only a few videos loaded, it seems repetitious, but as you add to the library of videos, it spreads them out more. If a piece of equipment has caused downtime in the past week and I have a video for that machine, I’ll show that one for a brush-up on the equipment and hopefully a reduction in the previous downtime.
JL: Is it on rotation?
MT: Yes, it’s in a rotation. Depending on how long a video is, I try to fit in about one hour to 1.5 hours in a weekly rotation. Then each video in the selection is shown in rotation. Windows Media Player has an option to show your selections in a loop. If you learn a bit about Windows Media Player and how to load videos into the “My Videos” folder, it’s very easy.
JL: Could other companies do this, too?
MT: Any company can do this with a minimal startup fee. Any newer computer with a fair amount of memory will do. Depending on your space limitations, you select the monitor. In this case, it was a 28-inch flat-screen T.V. we purchased on sale from a local store. It’s helpful if the computer has a HDMI port. If not, you can use the VGA monitor port and purchase the appropriate cable with the correct connections and you’re in business.
“The Skill TV content made us realize that we’re on the right path and it has made us want to try to expand even more, wherever possible.”- Martin Tauber
JL: Would you recommend other companies to do this?
MT: Yes, I would. If you watch the videos and can walk away with one tidbit if information each time, you improve the knowledge base of the maintenance team.
JL: Was there a difficulty in getting staff and management to embrace this idea?
MT: Our director of technical services, Scott Schmitz, actually came up with the idea and told the TMP manager, Jimmy Lowe, to make it so. Jimmy, in turn, requested that I take it on as a project and maintain it. Management was fully behind the setup. In the beginning, the staff was hesitant to accept training during lunch and breaks. But in time, they accepted it, and I’ve had several technicians tell me the video helped them by reminding them of a step in a process they either forgot or overlooked.
JL: Have you seen any tangible benefits yet?
MT: It’s been up and running for only a few months now. I’ve had a few requests for a particular video to air for a refresher in the correct method of setting up some production equipment. If that one tidbit of information the tech walked away with helped get a downed machine up and into production a bit faster, then I would say, yes, it has helped.
JL: What was the cost to set this up?
MT: Total startup cost for the monitor and new computer was approximately $1,200. If you already have a video camcorder, great. If not, they’re relatively inexpensive; a decent one costs about $300.
JL: Has it paid for itself?
MT: What’s a more informed and educated maintenance team worth? Instead of having a rep come in for all our equipment every time we hire a new tech, the videos we shot when the rep was here last are shown so the new tech gets an understanding of the equipment. When you have a rep come in for a class, you expect to be paying in excess of $3,000 for the visit (travel time, hotel, etc.) The approximate set up cost for the training monitor was approximately. $1,500. So, yes, I think it has paid for itself.
JL: Has Skill TV content helped you? If so how?
MT: Definitely. It lets us know that achieving a more informed and educated maintenance tech is just not our idea, but rather a worldwide movement in maintenance management. The Skill TV content made us realize that we’re on the right path and it has made us want to try to expand even more, wherever possible.
JL: What more content would you like?
MT: Some of the techs said that they’d like having a video on the proper use and selection of protective gloves, eyewear, boots, the dangers of arc flash, why it’s important to observe all safety rules and correct PPE for the voltage you are dealing with.
JL: What can Skill TV do to support you further?
MT: Skill TV can make it easier to download their videos from a central archived library in a Windows format without having to search YouTube. Then, get a new program to download it and convert it for Windows.
JL: What would you do differently if you could this again?
MT: I would have done it sooner.
JL: This represents a major breakthrough. As a result of learning of this development, Skill TV will be uploading new content and working to help more companies install break-room training monitors to upgrade workforce skill development.
E-mail Contributing Editor Joel Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org.