In this article, the Performance Review Institute (PRI) Customer Solutions and Support group explains why the quality of personnel is just as important as understanding the specifications and standards.

Training

Understanding the specifications and standards, such as AMS 2750D, is not enough. Organizations also need to employ the right people to implement the requirements properly, and this may require training.

The most basic way of describing training is: an activity that changes people’s behavior. Increased productivity is usually given as the most important reason for training, but there are many other benefits such as staff motivation and inspiration as well as giving them the information they need to do their jobs more efficiently and innovatively, thus saving the company time and money.

Training of highly skilled technologists is especially important because these jobs are hard to replace. For this reason, the goal should be retention of these qualified, experienced individuals.

Professional Development

To encourage staff satisfaction and to update their skills for the benefit of the business, many organizations in the aerospace industry are recognizing the need to identify professional-development opportunities for their staff, especially in expertise-related areas such as heat treatment.

This is timely because according to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) the average aerospace engineer in the U.S. is nearly 60 years old, with approximately 27% already eligible for retirement. Meanwhile, the number of aerospace-engineering degrees awarded in the U.S. fell 47% between 1991 and 2000, according to a report by the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. This is a trend that is not limited to the aerospace industry. The entire field of engineering is in decline and continues to be on the top-10 list of most in-demand positions globally – for every industry – as shown by the results of a survey of 43,000 employers from 32 countries (see sidebar).

For all these reasons, PRI has worked with many quality-focused organizations such as Alcoa, SAE International, Goodrich Corporation, Honeywell Aerospace and Rolls-Royce plc to develop quality-related professional-development courses and certification programs designed to consolidate and grow the knowledge base among engineers as part of their Customer Solutions and Support program. The purpose of PRI’s Customer Solutions and Support is to provide quality customer-driven and cost-effective business solutions to continually improve organizations throughout the world. With the industry focus currently on personnel, this is the area that PRI is developing with the industry at the moment.

eQuaLearn

PRI’s professional development branch, eQuaLearn, offers courses in a range of quality-related topics, including “Introduction to Pyrometry” and “Heat Treating for the Automotive Special Processor.” Other topics include “Root Cause Corrective Action” and “Internal Auditing.” The objective of these courses, which were developed and validated by industry experts, is to improve the quality of personnel in the industry and ensure that valuable skills do not disappear when staff retire.

eQuaLified

At the same time, PRI is also developing the complementary program eQuaLified. This is also a part of PRI’s Customer Solutions and Support and represents an industry-recognized special-process personnel qualification system developed and validated by subject-matter experts.

Via special-process exams and training courses, eQuaLified ensures consistency and excellence amongst special processors – including heat treaters – and provides competency validation for both primes and suppliers.

Technologist monitors vacuum casting process

Personnel Qualifications

eQuaLified objectively characterizes the special processes skills and knowledge of aerospace personnel levels:

1. Process Operator – They understand and perform the basic hands-on operations of the special process.
2. Process Planner – They are capable of designing manufacturing processes and interpreting process procedures to conform to customer specifications and requirements. Process planners are capable of problem solving and resolving day-to-day issues.
3. Process Owner – They are capable of writing, reviewing and approving processes, procedures and qualifications of lower levels. Process owners are capable of designing new processes and resolving issues among all the other levels.

This means that employers the world over will be able to recruit appropriately for vacancies and train their staff properly because these individuals hold a globally recognized, industry-designated status. It also gives organizations kudos to employ technologists who have been acknowledged by the industry in this way.

The quality of personnel is as important as understanding the specifications and standards. All companies need to make sure they have the right people to do the job right. Otherwise, the risk of escapes, rework and simple human error goes up, which is bad for morale and finances. In the current climate, no one can afford that. IH

For more information about eQuaLearn, eQuaLified and PRI’s other Customer Solutions and Support opportunities, visit www.pri-network.org