Moving decision making down the line
A British Steel case study

Page 5: Training

British Steel 4 Image 5The programme was introduced to the Llanwern Cold Mill in August 1993. Briefing sessions were used to present the concept, objectives and practical aspects of operator training to all managers and supervisors. Senior departmental management ensured that the importance of the training programme was appreciated by all members of the department and given the appropriate priority. Manuals were used to assess all operators within the units concerned and, in total, 342 operators were assessed between August and October 1993.

Following assessment, unit trainers agreed a priority training programme with management and detailed training started in October 1993. Junior operators were trained for promotion, releasing senior operators for extensive high level training. Competence training was carried out on an individual basis with classroom training prior to on-the-job training. A series of detailed tests was used to check whether the required standards had been met. All 105 managers/supervisors were fully briefed on organisational objectives prior to the start of the formal training. Training was then delivered in two distinct parts:

Part 1

This consisted of a series of lectures by steel industry experts at the company’s residential management college, Ashorne Hill. Five modules were covered over a 12 month period:

  • Process management module - developed an understanding of the key elements of cold mill production management and its commercial importance. World best performance was also reviewed.
  • Cold Mills technical module - examined, in depth, cold mill’s technology, process and products.
  • Supply chain management - logistics, partnerships and alliances (internal and external) were reviewed.
  • Nissan visits - two day visits to Nissan (Sunderland) to study the perceptions and concerns of a major customer.
  • Competitive edge workshop - addressed key concerns such as low yield, cost control and preparing performance improvement plans (following customer visits).

Part 2

Individual assessments carried out by senior works management and based on British Steel’s ‘Core Management Competencies’ and ‘Production Training Standards’ highlighted development needs for individual managers to be tackled through personal action plans.

Innovative and more effective alternatives to traditional course based training were sought; individual and team projects, foreign visits focusing on set topics and European steel plant exchanges with the results presented by individuals to senior plant management. In all cases, managers’ performance continues to be appraised formally on an annual basis with appropriate actions developed as required.

The results

The results of the training programme at Llanwern justified the importance attached by management to this initiative. Managers have shown an improved management profile, self-esteem and effectiveness, trainers are better motivated and feel that they ’own’ the design and delivery of the programme and operators have greater problem-solving skills, confidence and motivation.

Fantastic savings resulted. Sheet rejections were reduced from 40 tonnes in 1992 to 10 tonnes in 1995. Line availability improved from 66.5% in 1992/93, to 77.9% in 1994/95. In 1994/95, there was an overall yield saving of £2.4 million. The Continuous Rolling Mill achieved an outstanding record of 31,475 tonnes per week in April 1995 compared to 17,981 in 1992. The value of training cannot be demonstrated better!

British Steel | Moving decision making down the line

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