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Lou Kren Lou Kren
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Indiana Manufacturer Expands Use of METALFORM EDU

March 30, 2023

General Stamping and Metalworks (GSM), headquartered in South Bend, IN, and having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022, has long served OEMs in various industries, including lawn and garden and other agricultural as well as solar. In 2017 the company built a 190,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing operation and today boasts 295 employees in South Bend, and 75 more at an operation in Tomah, WI. GSM processes include metal stamping, as well as robotic and manual welding, sheet and tube bending, rollforming, laser cutting, and tool and die making and repair. 

Training Progresses from CDs to Online Platform

METALFORMEDUFor many years, the manufacturer employed CD offerings and onsite training from the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) to augment its inhouse skills training and on-the-job training (OJT), according to Kathy Crimmins, GSM director of cultural development. A few years back, the company became aware of PMA’s online METAFORM EDU training program, but not until Eric Nelson joined GSM in May of 2022 as training and development manager did the company ramp up its usage.

METAFORM EDU features nearly 40 PMA-exclusive courses and more than 800 total courses, covering topics such as precision measurement, blueprint reading, SPC, CNC, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing and safety. Coming soon: online courses designed for experienced press operators and die setters.

“Kathy and I put together a list,” says Nelson, recalling GSM’s initial foray into METALFORM EDU, “going through the curriculum and choosing several courses that we associated with leadership—communications, critical thinking, etc. Initially, we had our 34 managers take eight courses, and they then gained access to the entire METALFORM EDU library.”

Quick Assessment of Training Schedules and Progress

Using the program, Nelson quickly can see all of the certificates earned by trainees, including many that they took on their own initiative. And, he can set up training via METALFORM EDU that tailors to specific job functions.

“For example, our staffing manager and his lead have utilized some of the stamping courses,” says Nelson, “our engineering team took geometric dimensioning and tolerancing courses, and our maintenance team completed some of the electrical courses.

“METALFORM EDU has a very large course catalog with much to choose from,” Nelson continues. “And, with more detailed press brake training courses coming soon, we will utilize those with our press brake team.”

GSM has employed METALFORM EDU thus far chiefly for training in theory, backed by the company’s inhouse OJT and skill assessments, report Crimmins and Nelson. And, some team members still use PMA’s older training CDs, especially in the stamping area. 

“Those CDs still are relevant to the work that we're doing,” Crimmins says. “One barrier we have to making greater use of METAFORM EDU: Not every employee who works at GSM has a GSM email account. If we want them to take a course, we need to figure out some way of doing that for them. Eventually we would love to have more self-exploration on the part of employees so that they can decide where their interests are and where they want to go, but as an organization we’re just not there yet.”

While GSM pursues that goal, Nelson tracks employee progress on training and schedules further training through the METALFORM EDU site in conjunction with other inhouse training.

“We're trying to define the METALFORM EDU courses that we want employees to take according to their positions,” Crimmins explains. “For example, we’ll have all of our engineers take 10 specific METALFORM EDU courses.”

During onboarding, Nelson purchases METALFORM EDU licenses and provides required course lists for new GSM employees. Couse progress ties into the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, so that when METALFORM EDU award course-completion certificates, GSM’s ERP does the same.

Offers Flexibility

As GSM continues to expand its use of METALFORM EDU and fully integrate the platform into its ERP system, Crimmins and Nelson see a big plus with METALFORM EDU as compared to other training methods it has tried or researched.

“We really like that employees can train at their own pace with METALFORM EDU,” says Crimmins. “They can return to a section if needed, and, over time, if we see that something is happening in the organization, we can retrain everybody or change the focus of the training. As our culture evolves, we can select training through METALFORM EDU that can help with whatever challenges we might face.”

Industry-Related Terms: Bending, CNC, Die, LASER, Ties
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Training


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