Growing its presence in central Ohio for nearly 35 years, Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM) has two vehicle assembly plants in the Marysville area that build Honda and Acura cars and crossovers. A factory in Anna builds four- and six-cylinder engines and brake components that supply multiple HAM assembly plants in the United States.
Training its maintenance technicians to keep the production lines and manufacturing equipment running during 24-hour continuous operations is a daunting task. Honda’s Technical Training Lab provides blended (elearning and hands-on) training for maintenance technicians in 24 departments across the three plants. It administers two development programs: the Technical Fundamentals Program (TFP) and the Technical Development Program (TDP).
A few years ago during the economic slowdown, Honda and most other car manufacturers’ sales plummeted. To save costs, Honda focused almost exclusively on internal talent sourcing, rather than external hiring, by training its production associates to become skilled technicians. Soon factory leaders began to observe that many of the new technicians, while qualified, were not prepared to meet all the technical demands of the job.
Honda’s one-year TFP teaches basic technical skills to production associates who are interested in becoming technicians. Its four-year TDP prepares technicians to provide maintenance support for the production facilities. The company’s new talent development environment revealed that these programs were not effectively preparing production associates for technician positions. Also, equipment and technology changes added to the growing need to reexamine existing training content. Therefore, both training programs needed updates to ensure they aligned with what the maintenance technicians were required to do to keep the production lines running.
Scot McLemore, Corporate Technical Development manager for Honda, and his team partnered with CETE to use the DACUM process. DACUM is a job analysis method that determines the tasks performed by top performers in a given occupational area. With the guidance of a qualified DACUM facilitator, five to 10 expert workers form a panel that describes the occupation precisely in terms of the duties and tasks performed and required. This process produces a DACUM Research Chart — a graphic profile of all of the responsibilities of successful workers in the occupation. The information gathered from the subject matter experts (SMEs) — former maintenance and equipment service technicians — serves as the foundation for developing new or updating existing training programs.
In Honda’s case, its high-performing technicians identified the fundamental tasks required for all technicians in multiple departments across the organization. CETE and Honda staff facilitated nine DACUM workshops by department with the expert panels to determine the tasks technicians perform on the job. Honda staff then conducted a survey with staff from each of the technical departments to obtain additional information about those tasks. Based on the survey results, the Honda SMEs working with CETE facilitators analyzed each of the nine department’s priority tasks using a separate process called task analysis to determine how the tasks were performed. Next, Honda’s technical training team determined how to teach each of the top-rated tasks most effectively. The team structured the TFP and the subsequent four-year TDP to align with each other as well as across the various technical disciplines. Honda then hired instructional designers to work with its internal team of SMEs to design the training curriculum and activities.
The DACUM process revealed that both programs required additional content to ensure the trainings aligned with the job requirements. With the original DACUM results as the foundation, the TDP has evolved to include tasks beyond those initially planned. As a result, the TDP has grown to 31 courses, totaling approximately 728 hours of training over four years. (The total number of hours of training is approximate due to the self-paced nature of the delivery.) Development of 28 of the 31 courses has been completed, and the remaining three will be completed soon. DACUM also informed the training timeline — Honda learned at what points in technicians’ careers they needed to learn which tasks and revamped the TDP to better align with the natural career progression.
DACUM results have been shared with not only individual departments for use in their specific trainings but also the Advanced Technical Training team for possible use as the foundation for technical skills assessments for equipment service technicians (ESTs) and the development of advanced skills training. The focus of the Advanced Technical Training team is “next level,” application-specific systems training which is above and beyond the fundamental preparation Honda provides.
The need for training based on the outcomes of Honda’s DACUM analyses has increased due to a recent hiring increase of ESTs. At the time the DACUM analyses were completed in 2011, there were 52 ESTs in the four TDPs. Today there are 212.
DACUM provides valuable information because job experts are the ones who provide the input to the job and task analyses. The process establishes the foundation from which to develop any training curriculum. To date, Honda has delivered 34,166 hours of training based on the DACUM analyses.
For more information about how DACUM can work for you, contact John Moser.
Contributor: John Moser