Lou Kren Lou Kren
Senior Editor

Ease of Use, Structured Learning Make METALFORM EDU a Winner for NN Inc.

January 19, 2024

NN Inc., with operations on the U.S. East Coast and in the Midwest, as well as in Mexico and China, consists of two divisions, Power Solutions and Mobile Solutions. The Mobile division chiefly serves customers in the medical and automotive markets via machining and other metal-processing operations. The Power division, with some 700 associates and headquartered in Attleboro, MA, performs metal stamping among other processes to service industrial and electrical customers. It’s NN Inc.’s Power division that employs the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) METALFORM EDU online training system. To learn more about that usage, MetalForming talked to Eric Hauser, the firm’s operations manager.

Formal Training to Replace Retiring Mentors

NN-Inc-METALFROM-EDU-Training-groupThe Power division previously had relied on department supervisors and their leads to mentor trainees, which formed the backbone of the division’s training efforts. 

“However, retirements of experienced employees led to some deficiencies within the training program,” Hauser says. “We needed something more formal.”

When Hauser attended PMA’s Management Development Academy in the mid-2010s, he became aware of the association’s training capabilities. This, along with previous experience with PMA’s training aids and conversations with other metal formers expressing similar training concerns, led Hauser to recommend that NN Inc. explore more formal training via PMA. Though the pandemic tested the bandwidth available to implement such training, its easing led the company to study METALFORM EDU in greater detail and then access the platform.

In 2023, the use of METAFORM EDU in NN Inc.’s Power division blossomed and has become a training staple, according to John Domurad, who helped implement the platform and administers its use within the division.

METAFORM EDU features more than 50 PMA-exclusive courses and nearly 850 total courses, covering topics such as precision measurement, blueprint reading, SPC, CNC, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing and safety. Also available: the newly created 12-course METALFORM EDU Press Brake Operation module, and the five-course Die Protection Training module. Courses on advanced stamping press operations also are in development and will be introduced by year’s end.

“METALFORM EDU now is implemented in our workforce development program, and we value it highly,” Domurad says. He notes that the division also has begun monthly strategic workforce-development meetings with Hauser and all facility managers on how to expand its use of the platform.

NN Inc.’s Power division currently operates in “reactive mode” by employing METALFORM EDU training to address areas of potential weakness down the road, including seven Metal Forming course licenses. That soon will shift to “proactive mode,” Hauser and Domurad report, as the team explores modules to implement in pockets of facilities and expands its METALFORM EDU usage.

In-Plant Supervised Training Fosters Engagement

Trainees at NN Inc.’s Power division take courses onsite for a few hours two days per week under supervision—going from the shop floor to training and then back to the shop floor. This keeps the classwork “real,” as Domurad says, the idea being that trainees immediately will apply their training in a work situation. 

What’s apparent thus far: Employees are taking their formal training to the shop floor, discussing training topics and engaging with others on these topics where, prior, that just didn’t happen. Here’s another engagement example: Each week, trainees are asked to relate a new experience, piece of machinery or job action that they’ve experienced and learned since their last training session. They’re also expected, at the end of a session, to offer a nugget of newly learned knowledge that they will take back to the shop floor. 

This has led to a safer, more thought-out work environment, with positives expected in safety metrics and, eventually, throughput and efficiency metrics, Hauser and Domurad believe. “Employees also have begun requesting training in various other METALFORM EDU modules, including quality and automation,” Hauser says. “This quest for knowledge is very impressive.” Downstream, Hauser envisions such training as instilling a culture of “’this is a good place to work. I’m learning, I’m more valuable.’ This leads greater productivity and career advancement. At the same time, as the company invests in these individuals, it also will hold them accountable to raise their game and to lead by example. It’s a win-win.”

Ease of use is a big reason why Hauser prefers METALFORM EDU to other training regimens.

“I was blown away by the format—the ease of clicking and moving icons to different areas of the screen—navigation is very user-friendly,” Hauser says, comparing it to clunkier training systems he’s used in the past on his own time, without the added benefit of worksite supervision and its distraction-free give and take.

Besides its user-friendly nature, Hauser and Domurad view the substantive, standardized consistency of METALFORM EDU modules as impressive as any other learning resources they’ve experienced. For all of these reasons and more, NN Inc.’s Power division plans on a significant increase in license purchasing moving forward.

Industry-Related Terms: CNC, Die, Forming, Nugget
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Precision Metalforming Association

Technologies: Training


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