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Improving operator skills using flexible, online training benefits pharmaceutical tableting operations.
Online learning is increasingly becoming a powerful tool with which to improve the skills of a workforce. Implementing an effective e-leaning program can be an invaluable initiative to improve productivity and ultimately the quality of the end product in pharmaceutical manufacture.
The solid-dose manufacturing industry is seeing the benefit of this online resource as they seek efficient methods with which to help increase production. Growing demand for tablets, from developing countries and an aging population, is pushing manufacturers to think outside the box in order to bring high quantities of quality tablets to market in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible. Innovative solutions are being sought, not just on the shop floor with new technologies and processes, but also through advanced flexible staff training and coherent learning objectives.
Improving and recording levels of workplace skills is critical to the success of efficient modern manufacturing. Investment in the capital expenditure to install the latest high-speed tablet press can be compromised without trained and knowledgeable staff in place to exploit its capabilities and ensure that it runs at maximum overall equipment effectiveness.
For optimized manufacturing processes, the importance of skilled and well-trained operators, technicians, supervisors, and managers is essential. Investing in learning and development provides several tangible benefits such as reduced downtime, increased productivity, and ultimately, higher profit. Effective training may enable employees to spot problems that could halt production before they occur and can create a more motivated workforce.
Traditional methods of hands-on training or classroom learning are powerful tools and definitely still have their place, but in order to bring staff in-line with new pharmaceutical manufacturing advances quickly, companies should embrace all techniques available. E-learning can reduce the time required to learn by 25–60%compared to traditional teaching methods (1). The benefits of e-learning are being seen in many industries, and it has been predicted that the global e-Learning market will reach $325 billion by 2025 from $107 billion in 2015 (2). The pharmaceutical sector is a part of this increase.
When it comes to training in tablet manufacture a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not productive. A training platform should cover several skill sets and levels, from press operator to plant manager, to improve employee knowledge in all areas of tablet compression. When looking at e-learning resources, it is important to choose a flexible and adaptable online package that has been developed by a company with experience in knowledge sharing.
An e-learning system should have the flexibility to work seamlessly within an established manufacturing facility in any country. It needs to be a multilingual and adaptable system that is available in different configurations, ensuring the flexibility to work at the single-user level but with the ability to allow thousands of users, across multiple sites in a global company, to work from the same system. This consistency will ensure that all staff are working to the same specifications, thus measuring and improving the standard at all sites.
The pharmaceutical industry is constantly changing with new regulations, requirements, and operating procedures being introduced. Any e-learning technology should have the flexibility to incorporate new updates and the latest industry guidelines. It is also important that the platform has the option to incorporate a wide variety of subjects, allowing staff to broaden their skill set. For example, tablet compression tooling e-learning modules should cover everything from introductory terminology and tooling maintenance, to more advanced troubleshooting and productivity improvement.
In solid-dose manufacturing, understanding what makes a good tablet is important to achieving a quality product. A ‘virtual classroom’ tool can help operators to advance into skilled technicians by understanding key aspects, such as what makes a good tablet, how formulations can affect production, and how to resolve production problems. Having a detailed understanding of tablet compression together with hands-on training will vastly increase the skill and efficacy of the workforce.
The beauty of online training is that it can be taken at anytime and anywhere. The introduction of electronic-enabled learning has allowed those working in a busy modern manufacturing environment to learn the skills they require at a time convenient to them and the company. Staff are not always available to attend training and seminars, therefore e-learning fits in around production schedules and does not take away from productivity. The user can also stop and resume training at any time, reducing the impact on operations.
With online learning, employees can progress at their own speed, which ensures all staff get the most out of the training opportunities provided. It can also be tailored to specific professional development. What a tablet press operator needs to know will be different from that of a production manager or training director.
E-learning courses should be designed with a hierarchical system to allow training managers and supervisors to have access to a full audit, tracking, and reporting of employee development and certification. Following the completion of each course, certification can be issued in line with a company’s operating procedures and guidelines, including scheduling requalification after a period of elapsed time. With a compartmentalized structure, courses can be used across different departments, job roles, sites, and even countries for comparison purposes.
As the saying goes ‘knowledge is power’, and this is true when it comes to optimizing tablet manufacture. E-learning provides many benefits and is a cost-effective training solution that results in better performance and faster production. By ensuring key training is achieved and being used, tablet manufacturers are helping to make processes more effective and efficient, therefore facilitating increased output and quality of the tablet.
1. S. Gupta, “Nine Benefits of E-Learning for Students,” elearningindustry.com, Nov. 11, 2017.
2. T.J. McCue, “E Learning Climbing To $325 Billion By 2025 UF Canvas Absorb Schoology Moodle,” Forbes.com, Jul. 31, 2018.The
Alex Bunting is marketing manager at I Holland.