Cross-Training on the Production Floor

Cross-training employees is an often discussed topic in any successful production company.
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Published on:
07 July 2020
Updated on:
22 February 2024

Because it increases the flexibility of your production process, more and more companies are wondering how they can implement this efficiently in their factory. Through cross-training, operators are able to better utilize their skills and provide the opportunity to better guide new employees and pass on valuable knowledge. In the blog post below we give you some more explanation.

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What Does Cross Training Involve?

Cross training employees in production companies is also referred to as “multiskilling“, which means that production employees are trained flexibly so that they can be deployed on different production lines and work cells. Employees receive versatile training so that they can function at different workstations afterwards. This means that team leaders have to adapt their way of training today to current trends.

For example, a line operator with 30 years of service at a certain workstation suddenly falls ill. Because no one else can take over his work, there are gaps in the production process. If a good cross training tool had been available in advance, production could be maintained without hesitation. Other employees with the same skills could be identified and the line operator’s tasks could be taken over without any problems.

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The Benefits of Cross Training

A good integrated tool on the factory floor ensures that production employees can easily switch between work stations, assembly and production lines in the event of a changed demand or staff loss. In this way, as a manager, you create a flexible and stable factory overview and protect the organization against unexpected events.

Some advantages at a glance:

  • Strengthening internal knowledge
  • Non-stop learning
  • Better communication
  • Increase product efficiency
  • Reduce training time
  • Boost personal development
  • Flexible teams
  • Less turnover


Tips and Tricks for the Implementation of Cross Training

Azumuta has already helped hundreds of companies with on-the-job training and the implementation of a good learning management system on the production floor. We put forward some effective tactics.

A competency matrix displayed on a digital dashboard shows training statuses for five operators. 'Needs training' is indicated in red, 'Had training on previous revision' in orange, and 'Had training on current revision' in green.

1. Keep Training Internal

“We don’t have a budget” or “we don’t have time” are excuses that are often put forward. For example, training and operator support are often placed at the bottom of the list. But in fact clear work instructions and permanent training are an essential part of the entire production process.

That is why it is important to integrate training and follow-up in one central tool, and it is best to keep that tool internally in the workplace. Azumuta gives operators access to teaching materials at a specific workstation or production line in seconds. This makes monitoring and managing skills and training level very simple.

2. Digital Work Instructions

Provide step-by-step training with work instructions, visual aids and troubleshooting. Give your operators access to the knowledge they need. Digital work instructions are one thing, but make sure to support them with clear visuals. Add photos, videos and directions and let instructions speak for themselves.

Workers who feel that their team leaders are investing in their job performance will be able to gain more satisfaction from their work, do their best, and remain loyal to the organization for longer. In addition, targeted training ensures that production employees can be deployed in a more versatile and flexible manner, in other words a win-win for each party.

3. Work With a Skills Matrix

The skills matrix is a tool with which you can clearly and visibly situate the skills and competences of your employees. To optimally organize production processes or quickly assemble teams on the work floor, it is useful to have an overview of the skills and knowledge of your operators.

With Azumuta we will use the skills matrix as a handy tool to present all competences on the production floor in a well-organized manner. You will see for each individual which skills and qualifications they have. This way you can easily check which employees have which skills and, in other words, switch very quickly between different workstations.

The skills matrix will facilitate your recruitment and training policy. It gives you a clear overview of the training needs of the operators and can serve as a basis for the development when recruiting new talent by allowing you to easily identify which profiles should be recruited.

Some advantages of a skills matrix:

  • Quickly identify tasks
  • Arrange replacement quickly
  • Absorb peak moments
  • Monitor progress
  • Employees are more experienced

Create your own competence matrix

Do you want to make a skills matrix yourself and integrate it on the factory floor? No problem. We will help you based on the step-by-step plan below.

Step # 1 – Take a closer look at your factory 🔍

We are now going to start at the beginning. Before you can start designing a competence matrix, we need to answer a number of basic questions. First of all, what qualifications and skills should your operators have? And how qualified are they at the moment? Is there a shortage of skills? If so, how are you going to fill in the gaps? It is a matter of creating an overview and finding a nice balance between the operator and his skills.

Step # 2 – Have a coffee with it! ☕

In the second step, you can enter into a conversation with any operator or team lead. They are often better aware of their own skills and knowledge than you are. You may also be surprised by how much experience some operators have built up over the years. Identify the right competencies so that the right tasks are linked to the right employees. You will see that you will learn more about multi-employability or specific competences on the factory floor.

Step # 3 – Put all the information into a skills matrix 💦

Now collect all the information you have collected in the preparation phase. Place the names of the individuals vertically opposite the correct production line, department or workstation horizontally. Work with colors and numbers that explain the training level. In this step you effectively gain more insight into the specific skills required at a particular workstation or within a particular department. Supplement this template on a regular basis.

Step # 4 – Check, check, check ✅

What works and what doesn’t? After assessing and giving scores for each employee, it is not only your job to continuously follow up and supplement the schedule, but it is also important that you give every production employee the opportunity to add information. They often know best how efficient or inefficient certain work cells are. So involve your employees in this process and let them grow with the organization. By this we mean if a production employee is willing to develop further, make sure that there are sufficient development and training opportunities.

4. Create an Overview in the Factory

Finally, you can always use the timeline system (which is also integrated in Azumuta) to keep an overview of the entire production floor. Automatically link the planner to this, so you can easily record recurring audits, maintenance of performances, training and skills per individual.

Download Your Free Excel-Friendly Skills Matrix Template

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Azumuta is All About the People

And… don’t forget, you work with people. Azumuta pushes the production employee forward and will strengthen the organization internally. Investing in the people behind your company is one of the most efficient ways for most companies to retain experienced production workers, increase productivity and reduce turnover over time.

Do you choose to optimally support your production employees? Then get the most out of your investment and use an all-in-one tool. In this way you will not only centralize knowledge and information about your factory, but also automate it.

Curious about the possibilities? We are happy to help you!

Use Azumuta’s Platform

See how our platform can help streamline data collection, increase productivity, and increase quality assurance with a demo of Azumuta.

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A profile of an assembly operator is displayed on the left side, showing categories such as Pre-Assembly, Assembly, and Testing. Adjacent charts detail tasks like Cleaning, Assembly, Packaging, Pre-Assembly, and Testing, each with numerical values.
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