Success Story: BIS Partners with G&W to Develop and Implement Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship Program

G&W ElectricCompany Profile: G&W Electric is located in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and has been a global supplier of electric power equipment since 1905. Product offerings include overhead and underground distribution switches, Lazer® Automation solutions, reclosers, distribution and transmission cable accessories, and current limiting system protection devices.  Combining cutting-edge design and manufacturing technology with world-class ISO certified quality systems; G&W specializes in custom solutions to meet specific customer requirements.

Opportunity:  G & W Electric partnered with Illinois BIS to develop an apprenticeship program specifically geared toward the identified needs of the maintenance staff.  Employees who demonstrated a strong work ethic, interest in self-improvement, and exhibited a proven work history were selected as program participants. The training program consisted of traditional classroom-based training to provide foundational knowledge from which participants could draw when solving practical problems, to hands-on training using the very equipment participants would utilize while on the job. Additionally, an on-the-job training program was incorporated so that program participants would have practical work experience provided by in-house leadership and experts, that directly correlated to lessons learned in the classroom and shop.  The electrical installation project detailed below was part of the on-the-job training.

Objective:  Gain practical knowledge and apply safe work practices while gaining hands-on electrical system installation experience.

Project:  Install two 480-Volt, 3-phase-Delta, 100-ampere branch circuits from an electrical distribution panel to 75 KVA transformers and connect for 360-Volt, Wye configured secondary loads.

Job Briefings:  Each day at the beginning of the shift or whenever the scope of the job changed, a job briefing was held. All safety hazards apparent in the work environment were reviewed, as well as required PPE for the environment and anticipated tasks; specific safe work practices related to tools, equipment, or the environment were discussed during the briefings.

Maintenance technicians install conduit run, anchoring to Unistrut “trapeze” structure
Maintenance technicians install conduit run, anchoring to Unistrut “trapeze” structure.

Educational Focus:  Participants gained practical experience with the following:

  • Arc Flash Safety
  • Lock Out Tag Out (authorized level)
  • Fall Protection Practices
  • Maintaining a safe work environment through continuous housekeeping practices and workplace barrier maintenance / enforcement
  • Job / Work Planning
  • Work performance review at project conclusion
  • Coordinating work tasks with production supervisors and personnel
  • Performing work tasks over and within production work environments
  • Electrical conduit (EMT) installation practices
    • Component identification, selection, & installation
    • Measurement & Bend Calculations
    • Anchoring
  • Aerial work platforms (scissor & boom)
Technicians terminate to grounding buss
Technicians terminate to grounding buss.

Lessons Learned:  

  • Safety First
  • Good Job planning will yield more results than working really hard
  • Always identify and involve the other stakeholders of the project
  • Measure twice, cut once
  • Good work planning saves lots of walking
  • Bending 1 ¼” EMT with a hand- bender is hard work!
  • It’s a lot easier to stop pulling wire while you straighten out the coil than it is to untangle over 300 ft of 3 AWG!
  • Work performance review at project conclusion is just as important as job planning
  • Many people will always have more knowledge and perspective than an individual
Technician prepares offset conduit for installation
Technician prepares offset conduit for installation.

Following the job review, program participants were encouraged to give written feedback that reflected their impressions of work performance upon completion of the project. Participants all pointed out the following: Focus on safety, teamwork, communication and hands-on training.

Learn more about how Illinois BIS can develop a customized apprenticeship program for your organization here.