Expert Interview: How to adapt training within industry (TWI) to my company needs

TWI expert Susanne Svenningen

Let’s talk with Susanne Svenningsen from Siemens Gamesa.
Listen to her interview about Training Within Industry:

Training within industry (TWI) is a training method which is ideal for blue-collar training. As it is often the case, theory is not always matching the reality. We had an inspiring interview with Susanne Svenningsen who has adopted TWI to their very special needs in offshore construction. For everyone that thinks TWI is not possible in their environment, listen up – here is how it goes

What is TWI and how did you get involved with TWI?

TWI = Training Within Industry is a training concept that was invented in the US during Second World War to maintain production while thousands of men working in the manufacturing industry went to war. 

It was created to quickly ramp up the production of war materials and to quickly and efficiently train inexperienced workers to keep production going. 

TWI consists of 4 programs:

  • TWI Job Instruction: training employees to perform standard work
  • TWI Job Relations: leading with respect for employees
  • TWI Job Method: improving processes and procedures
  • TWI Job Safety: identifying and eliminating conditions that lead to safety incidents

In Siemens Gamesa, Offshore Construction we decided to introduce TWI Job Instruction as we saw a need for an even more specific hands-on training and we liked the idea of the 1:1 training approach – 1 TWI trainer training 1 trainee – and when we learned about all the great results from other companies around the world – TWI was an easy choice. 

TWI is often mentioned together with Lean Management – can you explain that further?

Ohh, I don’t know much about lean, and I don’t know if they have a similar mindset. Maybe similar in the way that both lean and TWI experts aim at obtaining sustainable improvements – but they have a slightly different approach. 

Whereas lean – in my mind – focus on systems TWI focuses on obtaining sustainable improvements through people – by making people part of the system and the process. Thus, TWI is known as “the human side of lean”.

But TWI compliments lean solutions and I often hear that TWI is the foundation of lean. But TWI people might be a bit biased 😊

Was TWI your first love or did you try other training methods earlier?

TWI Job Instruction was indeed my first love and so far, the passion has lasted 2.5 years. You must understand that being a wind turbine offshore technician involves A LOT of training … constantly. E-learning, classroom training, virtual reality etc. 

But the reason why TWI is so fantastic is that it fits very well with the way we work – 30 minutes o training and you are off to work again. I love the flexibility! You train when time allows. One minute a training need is identified and the next you start training. Quick reaction to training needs. 

But most importantly TWI generates fantastic results – and a lot of companies worldwide can prove it.

So, NO! I did not consider other training methods, although I did realise that it would require a bit of innovative thinking it to implement in our part of the business.

How did you become a global TWI trainer and why did you decide to become a TWI Train-the-Trainer?

By accident. I was trained to be a TWI Trainer, but my role was more of a project manager and support function, but when a TWI Trainer fell ill on the first project we were training on, I had to jump in. This is how my Global TWI trainer journey began – and to my surprise I loved it from the start for two reasons:

  • 1:1 training is not scary, as it is not in front of a full classroom it is a good start into training people
  • meeting a lot of different people while training is really great

My TWI Train-the-Trainer career began when our contractors started asking for TWI trainers. As a TWI Train-the-Trainer you must conduct classroom training – a huge step out of my comfort zone. First class run with participants from Muehlhan Wind Service back in February. I really enjoyed it, and I enjoy working with our contractors– strengthens our cooperation. 

You realized that traditional TWI is not easily implemented in your part of the Siemens Gamesa organisation? Can you explain what you did to adapt TWI to your needs?

TWI is originally intended for the manufacturing environment and offshore windfarm construction sites do not exactly fit into this category. There are significant differences.  

The most significant difference is that our technicians do not work permanently in one area. They work around the globe on different projects and various kinds of construction sites either on the harbour side, on vessels, or out at sea on the wind turbines themselves. The technicians are on site for approx. 6-8 months depending on the size of the wind farm, and then they are off to the next project.

On top of that they work according to a rotating work usually schedule 14 days on and 14 days off.

So, we had to be creative as we did not have the time no the resources to implement a traditional TWI set up on each project. In a traditional set-up you will have a certain number of trainers, support functions, facilitators, and managers – of course depending on the size of the organisation – and they all need to be certified TWI Trainers, and creating a set-up takes about 6 months. 

It took me a while to figure out how to do it. And how I figured it out is a funny story. One day when I was sitting in the sun on the terrace reading a crime story the solution came to me, and it was actually very simple: We would certify several Global TWI Trainers to travel to site every time a new offshore project starts. 

The initial scope was to help onboard contractor technicians since they work on land and are easy to reach, so we joined forces with the contractor and did a pilot in November 2018 on the world’s largest offshore wind farm, and we conducted more than 200 TWI training sessions in two weeks. It was a huge success, and we have continued our TWI journey from there. 

Did you come across other examples of companies that had to make some adjustments to implement TWI?

No, not to the same extent. But there are companies outside the manufacturing industry that are implementing TWI with great success, e.g. hospitals and banks. 

But talking about adjustments we are currently running a pilot on training back office employees in IT tasks virtually – so something good did come out of the corona lockdown. It forces us to keep thinking innovatively. 

If I want to start today with TWI in my company, what would be your advice? How can I start? Where should I start?

  • Best advice if you want to succeed: get management approval and use some of the great business cases to convince them 
  • Begin to study TWI: attend conferences and summits and grow your network, visit companies
  • Pair up with a TWI consultant – like we did with the TWI Institute Scandinavia. They will guide you through the process

You will not regret it – even if it requires innovative thinking. Anything is possible when you have the passion and I sure do.

About Susanne Svenningsen, Certified Global TWI Trainer – Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy
Susanne Svenningsen, certified global TWI Trainer and certified TWI Job Instruction Train-the-Trainer. Works as a TWI Program Manager for the world’s largest supplier of offshore wind turbines, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE). Susanne has an administrative background as an Internal Project Manager and started working with TWI in 2017. Since January 2019, Susanne has been solely responsible for implementing TWI in SGRE, Offshore Construction. Susanne has also been a speaker at national and international TWI conferences.