THE RIGHT TOOLS: North Kingstown-based Hexagon Metrology Inc. has implemented a new employee-education program designed to achieve greater workforce flexibility through cross-training. Pictured above are Hexagon Metrology employees Steve Webster and Mariano Martins.
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
By Michael J. DeCicco
Most employers would agree that a flexible and educated workforce is essential for world-class performance. Hexagon Metrology Inc., based at Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, adds that this goal is not easy to achieve.
Nonetheless, Hexagon Metrology implemented a comprehensive training program last year that has led to better performance, morale and customer service.
The company manufactures automated machinery and software for dimensional quality control of manufacturing processes. Its products are used by other manufacturers to improve the quality of the things that they make, from aircraft to automobiles. The company, a division of Sweden’s Hexagon AB, has 600 employees in the United States.
One goal of the new training program was to achieve greater workforce flexibility through cross-training. The training system was incorporated into job grades to help create a career path and promotions for employees, and individual trainings were coordinated for the factory as a whole.
The company considers its employees a crucial resource, said Steve Ilmrud, vice president of manufacturing. “We spend a lot of time training employees on different jobs,” he said. “It allows the worker to be more adaptable. It gives the employee additional skills. It makes them more marketable, helps them advance their careers. It’s a very, very important aspect of having a more flexible, responsible workforce, all while increasing morale.”
Ilmrud added, “The whole idea is to build a whole career for them within the company,” he said.
He described a process that focuses on ensuring that every employee is in harmony as far as the company’s objectives and goals are concerned. Departmental goals and objectives and individual workers’ responsibilities are communicated through regular departmental and companywide meetings.
“From the highest levels of management on down,” Ilmrud said, “the development of clear goals and objectives and the communication of those goals throughout the organization are critical. High-level goals and objectives are flowed down into department goals, then to individual responsibilities for each and every employee. It’s only through this ongoing communication that we make sure we reach our objectives.”
This communication from management to plant workers conveys six strategic imperatives that CEO Angus Taylor calls the company’s core values. The company values Taylor listed: professional, engaged, customer-focused, entrepreneurial, innovative and profit-driven. “When we look at our management objectives, those values are key,” he added.
Taylor said a major goal is developing all employees and hiring high-potential newcomers in order to reach the ultimate goal of providing the best products and solutions in its class. The advantages of this approach are self-evident, since a well-trained, efficient manufacturing staff improves the quality and quantity of what it produces.