How to Capture and Bottle Know-How: Preserving Expert Knowledge with an 80% Reduction in Time to Proficiency


Employee arranging blank aluminum cans.

Knowledgeable experience in the metal can design

For over 160 years, Anheuser-Busch has been brewing the most popular beers in America. Nationwide, the company operates 16 local breweries, 17 distributorships, and 23 agricultural and packing facilities, representing 45.8% of the U.S. beer market. Since 1986, the Oklahoma City Metal Container Corporation (MCC) Lid Plant has produced millions of iconic cans that contain the King of Beers. Its mission is to deliver exceptional, unparalleled product packaging to consumers and other stakeholders.

By bringing together some of the most informed and experienced people in metal can design, this plant has consistently produced some of the most innovative designs for grocery shelves. The plant excels at taking creative packaging ideas and executing them in a way that not only catches the consumer’s eye but provides them with a great user experience that makes the first impression a lasting one.

For decades, the plant had fostered a loyal workforce: through 2017, employee turnover at the plant was less than 1%. However, with only a few new hires since 1998, the management team realized that a significant and valuable percentage of the workforce would soon be retiring. The loss of these highly trained workers would also mean an exodus of decades of skill and tribal knowledge and fewer people with the expertise to train new hires. Another concern: training new hires using traditional methods meant diverting experienced team members away from their usual responsibilities, which lowered daily production. Derek Shores, business process manager and trainer at MCC, set out to find a way to onboard new workers, train them quickly and effectively and minimize the impact on daily production targets.

I wish we’d had this sort of training when I started in 1999. With DeepHow, we don’t have to keep relearning lessons and repeating downtime.

Derek Shores, Business Process Owner

A new digital curriculum - built in weeks, not years

Shores had noticed that the latest generation of job applicants was tech-savvy and often turned to YouTube to learn new skills. He saw the need to modernize the existing training approach of providing detailed standard operating procedures (SOPs) that they were required to learn. He envisioned a library of robust video training tutorials that could be absorbed quickly and conveniently by new team members.Shores formulated a training plan that used the DeepHow platform to capture the know-how of skilled workers and rapidly impact those skills to new workers. To capture that knowledge and know-how, he selected a team of three veteran employees who were familiar with the plant’s operations. Within months, the team produced a digital library of 80+ workflows, representing a wide variety of shop-floor processes.

80% reduction in time to proficiency

The new DeepHow system has transformed training and development. New employees are provided with a custom training plan. Once proficient at one workstation, new skills development targets are assigned so they can progress in their careers at the plant. Previously, it took 538 days, or about 18 months, of one-on-one training for a new hire to reach the first critical skill. With DeepHow, it is now 125 days, or 4 months, a nearly 80% improvement. Managers have also noticed that newly trained workers are more familiar with safety procedures and the importance of ensuring a safe workplace.

Personalized videos - and workers seeing themselves in videos - has built ownership to the work that they're doing, and enables and empowers team members to continue investing in their own training.

Better output, less chaos - and an increase in time saved by 75%

With the influx of new talent and better training, production has already increased by 2.5%. Because DeepHow training content is easy to access and searchable, it can be integrated into a busy operating schedule. Case in point: four teams of 180 personnel working across three different, round-the-clock shifts were educated up to proficiency without any interruption in production.

Joseph Whitmarsh, Lead Trainer at MCC, has personally benefited from his own investment of DeepHow. After spending even 2 - 3 hours each week building content in the platform, he began to see the overtime hours he was working go down. He started spending those 15-30 hours each week that he used to train other shifts with his two sons. The second shift and weekend teams were able to work more autonomously and efficiently, with fewer shutdowns and higher rates of productivity, because they always had access to Whitmarsh's expertise - even if he wasn't there.

It's easy to quantify these gains in simple terms. Before DeepHow, it used to take over 3 hours to change a cylinder in a machine in their plant; now, it takes under 45 minutes and rarely requires the maintenance team for support. That's a 75% improvement in time gained through getting there faster with DeepHow.

The DeepHow training videos accelerate the transfer of knowledge. And the platform supports our goals of resiliency and improvement by providing training on everything from big-picture machine overviews right down to granular skills for a specific operation.

Derek Shores, Business Process Owner

Continuous improvement enabled through over 10,800 videos

New team members can assimilate an expert level of knowledge in half the time it took before, qualifying them for more advanced roles and promotions. In addition, with the ability to replay and study techniques, they are identifying areas for process improvement that before would have gone undetected. This new capability for optimizing processes and reducing mistakes has also reduced material waste.

Since adopting DeepHow, the Anheuser-Busch MCC plant has achieved better financial outcomes and observed progress in almost every facet of its production process – all while cutting costs and reducing training time. The team’s dedication to capturing expert knowledge for the new generation of workers has ensured continuity in both skill and quality outputs, giving customers confidence in the consistency of MCC's products.

MCC isn't the only Anheuser-Busch plant that has leveraged the success of DeepHow. After MCC successfully proved the value of video SOPs built with DeepHow, the organization, led by Denise Channer, Digital Learning Global Manager based out of South Africa, went on to fully roll-out DeepHow across their global organization. Today, employees in the Anheuser-Busch family benefit from a knowledge library of over 10,800 videos with 170,000 views and 3,500 hours of content - all created effortlessly with DeepHow.

This success of this digital transformation hasn't gone unnoticed. In 2022, Anheuser-Busch was recognized for three awards by the Manufacturing Leadership Council, including an Operational Excellence Award attributed to their use of DeepHow.

Workplace readiness is a pressing challenge for skilled trade organizations

Creating a workplace readiness action plan is the necessary first step to upskilling new talent and capturing know-how from your most experienced team members. Download our expert guide and build your action plan today.

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