If you have ever spilled a beer then you know and accept the amount of ridicule that is normally dispensed by friends or others nearby. At the end of the day it is not going to have an adverse impact on one’s mood, life goes on. However, what if the amount of beer “spilled” is increased to hundreds or thousands of gallons?

While working as a brewer on the day shift a few years back I came across a co-worker with an expression of shock and bewilderment with their back firmly pressed to a fermenter. To my fellow brewer’s left was a 100 barrel fermenter (approx. 3100 gallons) with cold beer rocketing out of the racking port, which was about four feet off the ground. As he proved to be immovable and thankfully uninjured I trudged through foam beginning to crest my boots in search of the missing racking arm, butterfly valve, clamp and gasket. Perhaps I should have been in shock as well; however, all I could think about was saving the beer! After enduring the near freezing temperature of the beer fountain I was able to secure all the needed items to the fermenter, close the valve and attend to my co-worker.

What came to mind later was how was I able overcome the dramatic nature of the situation to come up with a solution. It was not due to training since both of us had been trained in the same manner and had worked on teams to create standard operating procedures (SOP’s) for the brewery. However, it was determined that such a situation could repeat itself due to the design of the fermenter and the need to move brewery hoses to be used for transferring and filtering beer. So, how do you ensure that others know how to properly and quickly apply a solution? This is critical in a brewery as whole or partial batches of beer can be lost in moments by opening the wrong valve or equipment issues.

One method to ensuring employee’s know how to react in an unusual situation is to incorporate scenarios into their training. Although some knowledge is empirical in nature, as it is acquired it should be put into a trouble-shooting section for SOP’s and included in training. Also, refresher training helps employees remember the important lessons from their initial training that they may or may not ever experience. Refresher training can be accomplished as part of regular employee meetings.

A useful process for developing training may be found in the ADDIE model which is:

A – Needs Assessment. What knowledge and skills do employees need?

D – Program Design. What will the training consist of and how will it be delivered?

D – Program Development. Create SOP’s and other training materials.

I – Implementation of Program(s). Initial pilot program and ongoing training.

E – Evaluation. Obtain and track participant perspectives and monitor performance on the job.

Creating a successful training program can be a time and resource intensive project, however, the benefits of higher productivity and increased efficiencies tend to yield a favorable return on investment (ROI). Evaluating the training program should include ensuring objectives are being met, making changes as needed and calculating the ROI. Also, the loss avoided by saving 3000 gallons of beer could just pay for your training program!

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