July 15th, 2019

Operator Training: The Fastest Way to Get from 100 Feet to 170 Feet Per Minute

It has taken Delta ModTech’s John Schultz as little as two hours to help a converting company boost production 70%. 

And the secret is astonishingly simple:

It’s training.  

John is a trainer with Delta ModTech. He’s been with the company since 1991, and he thoroughly understands our machines inside and out.  He knows what the equipment is capable of, and more importantly, he knows what can hinder their performance.

“Many operators are just afraid of the machine,” he said. 

And that fear could be affecting your bottom line. 

After 30 years he “still has some machines running”

John is nearing his 30 year work anniversary with Delta ModTech.  He has a degree in robotics and automation, and when he first joined us, he was building and wiring our machines.  Then he switched to engineering, and now he’s focusing on service and customer support. 

 John Schultz, Delta ModTech

John Schultz, Delta ModTech

He notes that he “still has machines running,” from his early days and Delta ModTech.  And, despite all the changes that have taken place both at Delta ModTech and throughout the industry, the basics remain the same.

It’s his job to ensure operators not only understand the machines, but that they can also maximize performance.  The 70% efficiency increase we mentioned earlier is a perfect example.

Getting into the comfort zone can yield huge results 

John recently met with a customer on site to ensure their machine had been set up properly, and the line was running correctly. It was performing well but in observing how the operator was running the machine, he could see a few simple adjustments that could improve performance.  

Even when things are working, training can make it work so much better.

“After a couple hours, we jumped from 100 feet to 170 feet per minute,” John recalls.  “I didn’t do anything but help them get more comfortable with the machine.”

Understand this was an isolated incident, and not indicative of the results generated from every on site visit.  But even though the training does include a fee, John is always surprised how many owners don’t pursue it. 

“The machine is running, and the owner thinks things are ok,” he said. “But sometimes they could be so much better.”

Key areas where operators need additional help

Keeping a team of operators well-trained and performing at peak efficiency is no easy task.

In terms of operating Delta ModTech machinery, John finds there are usually two common areas in which training can help:

1. Operators don’t understand rotary converting

These tend to be the operators who come from working on other non-rotary machines.  They don’t understand the basics, such as:

  • Gear ratios
  • Basic principles of tension
  • Steering
  • Laminating principles
  • Registration setup

The lack of fundamental knowledge becomes an issue when it comes to getting the most out of the machine.  “A lot of the operators hit the start button and it works, because it was set up correctly,” John said. “But they wouldn’t know what to do beyond that.”

2. Operators don’t understand how to make changes on the machine

Making adjustments to the job on site doesn’t come intuitively. It requires experience. John equates it to taking a commuter and putting them in a race car at the Indy 500.  You know how to drive a car, but not something like a Delta ModTech. 

That’s where advanced training comes into play.  In cases like the example above, a little advanced training can yield some significant improvements — and payback for the company. 

On site is often the best location for advanced training

When Delta ModTechs are delivered, they are accompanied by detailed manuals and initial machine training.  But for many operators, learning one-on-one with John after getting comfortable on the machine is much more efficient. 

Training after learning the machine allows operators to get more out of the session.

“Being able to show them how things work on their machine, using their materials, is much more effective than going through a manual,” John says.  

In the same respect, initial training and advanced training sessions can sometimes become too information-packed.  There’s really no substitute for being able to work through an actual problem while the machine is in operation. 

Tips for improving operator performance

An operator with limited experience in rotary converting can take six months to a year to get comfortable setting up and dialing in new processes on a servo driven press. Their own personal learning curve can be via user manuals, training videos, phone calls to support and their self-induced school of hard knocks. 

Operator performance can be improved by following these ideas.

John had some ideas for improving performance:

Focus on one key area first.  There’s a tendency to get things going fast, but John stresses the need to take things one after another.  “Don’t worry about all your stations right away. You need to focus on one area at a time,” he said. 

Set gear ratios correctly.  If you’re setting up a new program, make sure you have a gear ratio of one, so that everything has the same starting point.  Make changes to tension and registration from there. 

Use Re-Registration. The number of operators we talk to that are using die-to-die sync and just getting by, is shocking. Delta ModTech machines have the most advanced Re-Registration control available. Setup is fairly easy and once complete, it will automatically make adjustments to your die cuts without constant interaction.

Where is training headed in the future

John believes there is no substitute for the one-on-one training, but he foresees a greater use of Facetime and VPN services.   However, these would be for instant feedback on an issue. 

For more complex problems, John believes being on site is still the most effective.  When a call for service comes in, “Many times we aren’t getting the correct information from the operator, so it can be difficult to support those areas,” he said. 

On site operator training is most effective for complex problems.

In more complex cases, for example, an operator might use a wooden ruler instead of a digital caliper.  Pointing out the huge margin for error in this instance, and then providing and training on a readily-available solution, is critical.

These machines can truly perform magic.  But as John has proven — time and time again — without a well-trained operating staff, you won’t be able to pull that converting rabbit out of the hat. 

For more information on our Advanced Training options: https://www.deltamodtech.com/training/courses/

Training Resources for Delta ModTech owners can also be found on our ModTech Talk training blog: https://www.deltamodtech.com/modtech-talk/

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