Crown Cork & Seal Company Inc., which makes one of every five beverage cans used in the world and one of every three food cans used in North American and Europe, invests heavily in employee training in order to ensure its high-quality manufacturing. Every year, Crown trains 15,000 people at more than 250 plants worldwide, usually in an instructor-led classroom setting. Unfortunately for Crown and its employees, classroom-based training is costly and requires time commitments that are difficult to make at the plant level.

“The largest challenge is getting manufacturing employees into a classroom for a period of time in a cost-effective manner,” said Paul Palumbo, director of quality and training for Crown Cork & Seal, “because the training either comes at the expense of production, because we have to shut a line down and bring them in, or overtime, which can be quite expensive.”

To reduce these costs, Crown replaced some of its instructor-led courses with Web-based training applications. Crown chose to use Macromedia Authorware and IBM’s Mindspan Learning Space to provide lower-level courses to its employees. Before training its own trainers to use the new system, Crown partnered with Brookwood Media Arts, which focuses on providing e-learning and e-business solutions as well as Internet and multimedia training.

Prior to implementing the new solution, two full-time trainers traveled to teach on quality topics such as control chart theory and process capability, according to Palumbo. These resources have since been reallocated to cover higher-level statistical training such as Six Sigma and experimental design, he said.

“We still have the trainers out there, but they’re able to refocus on more advanced topics, and we do all our basic training now using the Web-based delivery system combined with some facilitator-led on-site,” said Palumbo.

Crown has saved $3 million yearly from reduced training costs, and more people are taking more classes for less money. And because Authorware courseware integrates with the LMS, Crown gets increased testing, scoring, reporting and tracking capabilities, helping it better manage its training functions and its employees’ performance. Palumbo cites a reduction in travel expenses and touts the 24×7 availability of the training.

Crown Cork and Seal can be sure of the effectiveness of its Web-based learning through audits performed at the plant level, said Palumbo. “We audit for compliance and we audit for effectiveness on an annual basis, and then we also look at the costs and what resources were needed to do that training,” said Palumbo.

The biggest gains, according to Palumbo, can be seen on the safety and compliance side of the business, where employees are required to review certain topics on an annual basis to meet compliance requirements.

“Those are the classes that we really had to take people off the floor in mass and shut a production line down or pay overtime to get it done,” said Palumbo. “Now those topics are available 24 hours a day all year. …In 12 months you have 15 topics to go through, and at some point you’ve got to get everybody in. This way, they can come in on their own time, if the line’s down for maintenance, if production is light that day or if they’ve got an extra person on the floor.”


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