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SolidProfessor & Kawasaki in Modern Manufacturing


May 23 2015

On-going Learning: Key to Success!

15/05/2015 | Author : Deputy Editor: Vogel Business Media India, Nedra Pereira

skill devLearn how Kawasaki Motors through SolidProfessor—an online training platform—helped its design engineers learn new concepts and techniques for SOLIDWORKS and stay up-to-date through convenient training modules.

To the average person on the street, when one hears the name Kawasaki, the first think that comes to mind will probably be of motorcycles or possibly ATV’s, but Kawasaki is actually much more diverse than that. “We make boats, tractors, aerospace equipment; we even help to make the mine sweepers used by the United States Armed Forces abroad. At our particular facility, however, we have two focuses: rail cars and consumer products. Our rail car division produces mass transit solutions for large cities, like New York and Washington D.C., while our consumer products division makes recreational utility vehicles like the Kawasaki Mule, a versatile work vehicle used by maintenance and parks and recreation departments, and also personal watercraft like jet skis,” informs CAD Administrator, Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation, Wayne Schafer.

About six years ago, Kawasaki’s rail car division received their first seats of SOLIDWORKS. Over the next couple of years, the consumer products division began helping them produce designs. They decided that it made sense to adopt SOLIDWORKS across both teams, making it easier to communicate.Nobody in their group had any formal training in SOLIDWORKS and they needed a way to get their team and future hires to work quickly with the software.

Given the complex nature of the work done, the company realized that they needed to train their staff on a regular and convenient basis. After having researched a couple of other online training options alongside SolidProfessor, Schafer realized that SolidProfessor was the right decision for his team. “He appreciated that we present topics in concise chunks, making it much easier for the teams to consume. Kawasaki hires a lot of people fresh out of the local university. We help them by providing their new users with a customized learning path that focuses on the most important skills, helping to smooth the transition into their job,” avers Co-Founder, SolidProfessor, Jason Wright.

Schafer in response to why they chose this particular softeware adds, “We did not want to send everyone out to classroom training; the travel and out of office time was cost prohibitive. I ran across SolidProfessor and it was a perfect fit for our needs. The videos are not long and drawn out, which is great because engineers sometimes have short attention spans. SolidProfessor presents the topics in concise chunks, making it much easier to consume. I have also found that when someone on my team gets pulled away from SolidProfessor, it is easier for them to dive back in where they left off.”

Online vs. classroom

CAD, CAM, and BIM software are changing quickly and dramatically. On-going learning is essential to stay updated on the latest technology and software capabilities. For companies, this means investing in their employees through an on-going development of skills. Wright voices, “SolidProfessor helps managers take control of their team’s productivity. First, we help them perform a skills gap analysis to understand areas where their team needs to develop. From there, they can create custom learning paths to rapidly onboard new users. Their top performers can increase productivity by using SolidProfessor as an on-demand reference tool. Last but not the least, companies can measure progress and knowledge retention with integrated tracking.”

Traditional live classroom methods are based on the idea that learning is a one-time event. Software is dynamic and quickly evolving. Within a few years, software can evolve to become almost unrecognizable. Yet, traditional learning methods are still applied to learning software through the classroom. “The ‘one and done’ approach to learning technology is wholly ineffective. Classroom learning is not irrelevant, but it is not enough, either. After you have established a foundation of software skills, on-going learning is essential to maintain proficiency. We need to change the way we think about learning in order to keep up with an industry that constantly changes,” affirms Wright.

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The company is extremely happy with the service from SolidProfessor, Schafer states, “SOLIDWORKS has a tremendous command and function base, it is versatile. In fact, you can do so many things with SOLIDWORKS that it is not really possible to retain everything by memory. If, for example, you have not worked with Sheet Metal for a few weeks, you find that when you need to tackle a Sheet Metal project, you are less familiar with the tools you seldom use. SolidProfessor offers our team a method to re-orientate themselves on what they have forgotten, and also allows them to pick up best practices and new design techniques along the way.”

The company has since seen various benefits of incorporating the teaching tool. Schafer voices, “SolidProfessor has helped our team improve design intent. With a better understanding of the tools, they know how to apply them more efficiently to create their designs. We hire a lot of people fresh out of the local university. Most of our engineering interns, as well as our new hires that come out of the local campus, have typically been exposed to SOLIDWORKS on a limited scale. SolidProfessor allows us to provide the new users with a customized learning path that focuses on the most important skills, helping to smooth the transition into their job.”

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SolidProfessor has helped Kawasaki design engineers improve their design intent for various products such as the jet-ski.

Targeted training

With SolidProfessor, it is obvious that the gains have been immense for Kawasaki Motors. Schafer expresses, “One feature I really like about SolidProfessor is that I can set up my own course of training videos built around the concepts that I think are most important to new people joining our team, instead of giving them access to the whole platform and saying ‘have at it’.” The approach is a more targeted one and the results speak for themselves. Another notable benefit that SolidProfessor provides is the update guides. This enables users to have access to content that is current so that they can stay on top of new features and get the most out of the design software. “The composer course was very helpful to me.

I had seen some demos, but I had no idea how to go about getting started, to set something up for the first time. SolidProfessor was instrumental in getting me up to speed,” concludes Schafer.

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Tony Glockler
Tony Glockler

About the Author

Tony Glockler

SolidProfessor Co-Founder and CEO, CAD junky, sailer, surfer and former world traveler (before kids, that is).