A Look at Training Within Industry (TWI)

A Look at Training Within Industry (TWI)

An older World War II training program called Training Within Industry, or TWI, has made a resurgence in the industrial world for its efficiencies in creating a skilled workforce, and doing so quickly. Not only that but implementing a TWI program is excellent at improving labor and management relationships, increasing productivity rates, and most importantly, it puts a heavy emphasis on continuous improvement strategies.

This article will be covering the history of the TWI program, it’s methods, development, and its relationship to other standardized working methods.

What is Training Within Industry?

Training Within Industry is a method that manages the efficient training of employees through various information concentrated programs. Those programs, of which will be discussed later in this article, are the backbone of a TWI program and ultimately work to facilitate standardized procedures.

TWI has been proven to be successful in that it has remained relatively the same since the 1940’s. However, our ability to learn new skills has not changed either. Rather it is our capacity for new and continuously improving technologies that have undergone significant changes since that time period. For that reason, it is safe to assume that since TWI has withstood the test of time in a changing environment, the method has the ability to create a paved way to facility improvements. It is also worth mentioning that TWI was, and is still, a large influencer of the Toyota Production System.

History of the TWI Method

In the last century, there has been six significant developments pertaining to the TWI program. While many say it officially began in the 1940’s, the development of TWI can be traced back to 1907! The timeline is as follows:

1911 – Frederick Winslow Taylor was the father of the Scientific Management method that prioritized what was called the “time and motion study” in which workers were observed while being timed with a stopwatch to determine any wasteful movements. Taylor was obsessed with finding the best way to complete a job quickly, but also completed at the highest level of efficiency. Sounds a lot like Lean manufacturing, right? However, with this method, one of the things missing was treating employees as people rather than just replaceable labor.

1907-1930 – Lillian and Frank Gilbreth, Frank’s wife who had obtained a PhD in psychology and himself a successful brick layer and contractor, were big proponents of Frederick Taylor’s scientific method for workplace productivity. However, they expanded where Taylor lacked by designing working environments in a way that helped employees effectively manage fatigue and minimize repetitive strain educed injuries.

1919 – The Emergency Fleet Corporation of the United States Shipping Board planned to increase the number of shipyard workers ten-fold with the onset of WWI. They employed Charles R. Allen to run the training program with his own four step program called “Show, Tell, Do, Check, to quickly break down the steps of a job, and teach it to the workers efficiently and effectively.

1940-1945 - The U.S was a primary supplier of war related equipment for the allied forces in WWII, but all the skilled workers, the nation’s men at the time, had gone off to fight in that very same war. This unfortunately left the U.S with a labor force shortage. Thankfully, women stepped in to take the place of their husbands, fathers, and brothers, but the only problem was that women didn’t have experience welding, milling, or in other kinds of industrial work.

The TWI program finally sprang into existence officially in the summer of 1940 to make an attempt at establishing a skilled workforce quickly. The Training Within Industry program was created as a part of the War Manpower Commission to be able to rapidly increase its industrial output for serving the allied forces’ needs.

1945-1955 – Once the U.S troops returned from WWII, the TWI programs across the country began to slowly disappear. By September 28th, 1945, the government stopped promoting this program altogether. However, this method was taken across seas and implemented in places like Japan at the Toyota Motor Company.

1950-Present – Now, TWI has been known to be a large influence on the Toyota Production System, or TPS, as well as Lean manufacturing. Training Within Industry has characteristics floating within Lean manufacturing techniques such as Kaizen, Six Sigma, or Kata (which is defined as a structured way of doing tasks or practice).

The TWI Program

There are four primary modules that TWI uses, those are Job Instructions, Job Relations, Job Methods, and Program Development. These learning modules have the potential to make a huge difference when it comes to employee competence as well as the development of leaders within a business. That in turn creates a more cohesive unit when it comes to continuous improvement and striving for overall perfection.

Job Instruction (JI)

Job instruction, or JI, focuses solely on how to train employees. The JI module is simple enough to where it will work with almost any one-on-one training process for any type of position. To properly use this training outline, the user must be familiar with the preparation required and the four additional steps it takes to fully train employees. All of those details are as follows.

Instruction preparation absolutely must be done before meeting the new employee to be able to give them the best instruction possible. This helps the instructor relay all the important information, do so efficiently, and ensures the employee retains it all. There are four steps that must be completed for the instructor to be fully prepared to take on a new trainee.

  1. Create a timetable to clearly establish the goals related to what skills the worker must have and understanding of and when those skills should be attained.
  2. Break down the job by listing all the important steps, key points, and why all of them are necessary.
  3. Have everything ready means all the right tools and materials are available for the employee to start performing supervised tasks and training exercises the same day.
  4. Arrange the workplace properly to establish a standard for the new employee going forward.

After this prep work has been successfully completed, the trainer must then train the employee! There are four general steps in this process, those are as follows:

  1. Prepare the worker by reassuring them, getting them to talk about what they already know about the job, get them interested in learning about the job, and put them in the right spot to give them the best learning experience.
  2. Present the operation one step at a time clearly and completely, but make sure they understand every step before moving on.
  3. Try out performance by having the new employee do the work. Make sure to correct any errors, have them explain each key point while they complete the task, and continue the work until the trainer is confident that they understand the steps.
  4. Follow up by checking in frequently, encouraging questions, and eventually tapering off the coaching.

Back when TWI was new, the above steps were noted on a small card that trainers would carry around with them. These cards were available for all of the TWI training modules as well. With that being said, having constant reminders and “cheat sheets” like these helped create a standard for training that enabled a high success rate for giving workers a chance at becoming experts at their jobs.

Job Relations (JR)

Job relations are an important part of maintaining a safe and productive workplace. However, to achieve those goals, JR relies on creating and maintaining a good relationship with employees.

This module stresses the foundations of a good relationship, which can be seen as a more proactive approach to skill building. Creating a foundation for good workplace relationships includes:

  1. Regular performance feedback to let the employee know how they’re doing and to give them any suggestions for improvement.
  2. Give employees credit when they are doing an excellent job.
  3. Let employees know of any changes that may affect them and why those changes are being made.
  4. Enable the employees to reach their full potential by encouraging them to use their unique talents.

The JR module also goes on to explain howto handle issues that arise within the workplace. This is the more reactive approach that must be gone over to allow for balance in workplace relationships between both leaders and workers. This series of steps goes as follows:

  1. Consider the facts from both sides. The leader seeking workplace harmony must go out onto the work floor and talk to the employees to gather their opinions and feelings.
  2. Weigh the options and make an educated decision.
  3. Take action by either fixing the conflict by oneself or going to a supervisor.
  4. Check the results of those actions by watching for changes in productivity as well as the attitudes of the employees.

The JR model is essentially a way to teach leadership skills needed for the right level of communication and problem solving between both management and the workforce.

Job Methods (JM)

The Job Methods module is primarily used to help the company using TWI produce quality products in less time but do so in mass quantities. Just like in Lean manufacturing techniques, TWI is focused on using the resources they have in a way that maximizes their assets to the fullest extent. The JR method breaks this goal down into four objectives to follow:

  1. Break down the job into all the details, methods, material needs, machine uses, and manual work.
  2. Use who, what, when, where, and how questions to determine the best way to allocate design, work, and maintenance of production.
  3. Develop a new and improved method through elimination, combination, rearrangements, and simplification of production processes.
  4. Apply that new method with approval from management and ensure it’s safe while also producing quality products at the quantity required.

Remember that the JM module works best when employees are involved throughout the whole process. This practice was missing when TWI was first created, and instead put improvement measures solely on the shoulders of the supervisor. Not only does that strategy leave out the voices of those who are physically doing the work, but it also doesn’t facilitate a healthy level of communication between the higher levels of management and the employees.

Program Development

The Program Development module is heavily focused on improving facility activity through training itself. PD essentially develops the training program used in JI, JR, and JM. With that being said, Program Development modules consisted of five sessions that were all day rather than only two hours like the above learning modules. The four steps to PD consist of:

  1. Identify production problems through observation, reviewing records, and anticipating problems. Once that is complete analyze what evidence is there and identify any training needs to remedy the issue.
  2. Develop a plan by allocating the right people to the right jobs.
  3. Put the plan into action and have both the management and employees participate.
  4. Check the results to make sure no changes need to be made to the plan.

This particular job method is likened to the Plan, Do, Check, Act model of Six Sigma. By reducing wasteful behavior through appropriate training of all leaders, supervisors, and employees, then everyone is aware of their responsibilities when it comes to subjects such as preventative maintenance tasks, and other standardized work.

Training Within Industry & Kaizen

As mentioned before in this article, Training Within Industry puts heavy emphasis on continuous improvement strategies to create a workforce that uses standardized work to achieve quality products. This is mainly achieved through training programs that allow the company to develop the leadership skills of trainers.

The job method that most closely resembles Kaizen techniques, which share many of the same qualities as TWI, is the JM module. Using teams to facilitate overall facility improvement is at the core of Kaizen objectives. On top of that, the TWI training film first used in Japan was titled "Improvement in 4 Steps" and could be translated to “Kaizen eno Yon Dankai.”

How TWI Influenced Lean Manufacturing 

Training Within Industry is essentially a Lean approach to training. TWI became a big influencer of Lean manufacturing because it was a condensed and proven way to train employees in a way that aligned with Lean manufacturing principles. Those being eliminating waste and always looking for ways to improve the facility’s production process.

Training people effectively and efficiently gets results. With that being said, training is also at the core of many Lean manufacturing strategies such as Six Sigma, Kata, and Kaizen. As a result, when these programs began to appear in the manufacturing, distribution, and other industrial outfits, they had a base program for training that worked, which was the TWI method.

Overall, Training Within Industry is an old training method that has lasted throughout the years because of its simplicity and its ability to procure results in the field of continuous improvement.


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