Preparing Your Team for Logging Downtime Codes


In this article we will demonstrate methods, tips and best practices used by existing customers for their successful roll outs of Downtime Reason Codes to their staff.

Changing Culture

Oftentimes, adding data collection to the shop floor will require a change in culture. Changing culture can be difficult, yet often necessary in order to increase adoption of a new tool or a business objective.  Below are some recommended roll out methods, tools for enforcement, tools for success, common hurdles and solutions to those hurdles.

Roll-Out Method

We have found our customers to be most successful when rolling out the Downtime Reason Codes in a five stage process: early notification, formal meeting, formal training, visual boards, continued reinforcement.

Early notification:  In this stage you will notify your staff of the upcoming Downtime Reason Codes Module roll out.  This should be a brief announcement about the new module a week or two prior to your formal meeting (phase 2).  The goal is to begin planting the seed around the idea of a change and allow your team to begin asking questions.  Your team will appreciate the transparency and it also provides leaders sufficient time to prepare for these questions before the formal training phase.

Formal Meeting: A formal meeting should be held no more than 2 weeks before launching the Downtime Reason Codes Module.  In this meeting you will go into greater detail about the new module and explain to your team:

  • Why the change is beneficial to the process and the company.
    • Actionable items for improving downtime
    • Less overall downtime and better utilization
    • Better management of equipment
  • How it will beneficially impact them (your staff)
    • Allow grievances of workers to be systematically recorded and addressed with actionable items
    • Leads to projects that will decrease downtime
    • Allow for training opportunities to be identified
    • Explanation of timelines for training
  • What this change looks like for the company
    • New processes
    • New goals and objectives

Formal training:  Training can be done all together or broken into two segments as listed below. Amper will host a “train-the-trainer” session to empower your lead users to train others within the company when you are closer to your roll out date.

  • Training option 1: All staff will be trained on the Downtime Reason Code Module as one group and be expected to implement starting the next day.
    • Pros: Less time spent on training. Users can go to peers for questions. Everyone will be held accountable to the same standard.
    • Cons: The process may not be dialed in effectively and the Downtime Codes may not all be in the system or easy to find, leading to disengagement with the product.
  • Training option 2:  The training will be split into two groups. The first group will be with a small group of highly engaged and/or motivated staff who already see value in the product, i.e. your product champions. This group will do a trial run for 1-2 weeks testing out the module and identifying process flow issues, identifying best practices, gathering any missing codes as well as establishing the best design for displaying the Downtime Code Module. Once the changes have been made, the module will be rolled out to the remaining staff members.
    • Pros: This allows for the best practices to be established and all missing codes to be entered making for a smooth user friendly transition. In addition you will have several expert users to provide assistance to their peers.
    • Cons: The roll out process takes longer and requires two potential training sessions (depending on if you have a second formal training or have your expert users train on an individual basis) instead of one.

Visual Boards: Visual boards contain your Amper dashboards for your machine or machine group (cell) for easy visualization by employees (supervisors, operators, etc.) in your factory. Visual board adoption is highly recommended.  Our customers who have implemented this have shown increases in performance and ability to reach targeted goals. They can be utilized by your staff to quickly and conveniently see when downtime is occurring on a machine.

Continued reinforcement: This phase is an ongoing reinforcement for encouraging use and tracking employee engagement.  Let’s look at an example reinforcement system:

  • Set up a metric: Creating and tracking metrics provide an unbiased and objective way to measure adoptionA useful metric our customers have tracked is the percentage of unlabeled events.
    • Keep in mind that this could be different for each company so find a metric that will help you enforce not only labeling in general, but diligent labeling.
  • Monitor metric: The Explore module is a simple and convenient tool to track unlabeled events. This data can be pulled into a CSV file for your own analysis or you can use the built in functionality to drill down into the sources of unlabeled downtime.
  • Action:  Some examples of ways to increase labeling include:
    • Tracking can be done by setting an alert for unlabelled downtime. For example, if you have 3 unlabeled downtime events in an hour, send an alert to your supervisor.
    • Employee reviews and employee training to optimize performance
    • Review Downtime Codes and organization to be more applicable or user friendly for the operators.

Hurdles and Responses

Introducing any new tool or software can be met with many hurdles to adoptions, but no hurdle is insurmountable with training and education. Below are the top three hurdles our customers have encountered when trying to implement Downtime Reason Codes along with our suggestions of how to re-frame the situation and educate your staff.

Operator fear of being monitored.

In some instances, operators fear being monitored and tracked with automated data collection. Operators may feel that they will be pushed beyond their limits to produce.

  • Set reasonable goals. Talk with your employees and explain that you are going to work with them and the system to find a realistic goal. Explain to your operators you will use the system to ensure metrics are on target and that management will not set unreasonable expectations for the employee.
    • KEY: Working with your staff and using the software as a tool to improve the overall business, not to monitor them.
  • Amper is not a punitive measure, but a means of improving their tools. The goal is to use Amper to find out where employees struggle the most and identify ways of improving their work process and the machine functionality.
    • KEY: This is not punitive, it is to improve the employee’s situation.
  • Labeling allows management to better understand and improve maintenance of machines, leading to fewer breakdowns. If labeling is done properly, it can allow for more strategic planning of maintenance based on use rather than time. Think of a car’s oil 2000 miles or 6 months.
    • KEY:Better maintenance of the tools operators use.
  • Downtime Code tracking provides operators a systemic paper trail to back their grievances.
    • KEY: Giving employees a voice with data.

Adding to a Full Workload

Employees sometimes will only see this as an addition to an already busy work day.

  • This is data that needs to be collected whether it is by paper or electronic. Using the electronic system it is two clicks of a button vs writing out a whole sentence. In turn the data is then easily extracted and no human entry errors if transferring it over to a database. At the end of the day both the operators and managers will increase the speed of a much needed process.
    • KEY: This is necessary data for the company to grow and in reality this tool will decrease the time it takes to capture it.
  • This data may be a few extra seconds to input but the benefits far outweigh the cost of time. The data will provide insight for managers to take action on, improving employee conditions and production capabilities.
    • KEY: This data is used to improve the work conditions of the employees.

No time to implement

Employees, especially managers, always have a lot on their plate and feel they do not have the time to implement the tool even if they would like to.

  • Present the change as winning the war vs the battle. Your staff may lose 10 minutes over the course of a week entering Downtime Codes, but in turn you will utilize the machines more efficiently. With this new data, you can fix the underlying issues.
    • KEY: Focus on the long term improvements, not the initial time commitment.

Work with your team to find how they can best fit this commitment y into their workday.  Ask them for what they need to free up time for this important task.

Too many downtime codes.

Often employees will have trouble finding the downtime Codes or claim to be too busy to enter the data in.

Entering a concise yet comprehensive set of Downtime Codes will make it quick and easy for your staff to enter their Downtime Codes.  Click Here for best practices on how to set up & organize Downtime Codes. Educate your team on your Downtime Codes structure  and how they work to optimize labeling.

Fostering Engagement

In order to ensure continued use of a tool or process, you and your team may want to take steps to continually foster engagement. Below are some ways you can foster this engagement with Amper without utilizing punitive measures.

  • Reiteration of benefits - On an on-going basis remind your staff why the system is important and what benefits you have achieved since using it.
  • Auditing, “Auditing builds habits” - You can frame it so that audits are done to make sure the process is kept in a way that allows operators to operate fast and efficiently.
    • Creating Alerts for not filling in downtime codes will help remind operators and managers of the task requirements. Click here for instructions on setting up Alerts
    • Establish a plan for reminders and reviews with your team.
      • Weeks 1-2 after deployment - Daily reminders and semi-daily check-ins by manager or supervisor
      • Weeks 3-4 after deployment - Semi-daily reminders and weekly check-ins
      • Weeks 5+ after deployment - Individual reinforcement based on alerts

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