Improving employee skills for complex equipment

3M works with Southwest Tech to improve productivity


3M produces thousands of products in scores of markets - from health care and highway safety to office products and abrasives and adhesives. The Prairie du Chien facility manufactures and distributes abrasives for surface conditioning.


3M recognizes that in order to achieve their goals, they must invest in upgrading workers’ skills. Employees need higher-level skills to make them more productive and give them opportunities to advance within the company. 3M technicians must be capable of maintaining, diagnosing, and repairing the increasingly complex computer controlled mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic machines critical to the manufacturing operations within the company.

Production, administrative, supervision, and management sales employees must use more advanced features within the Microsoft suite of software to maintain productivity.


Southwest Wisconsin Technical College designed programs to increase the skills of mechanical technicians as they progress through a multi-tiered wage/skills scale. Maintenance and Mechanical staff participate in Mechanical, Electrical, PLC, and welding training while production/non-production staff participate in MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint training.


Customized training brought increased productivity and employee advancement opportunities. Employees have made measurable efficiency improvements to their manufacturing network. They are now qualified to move up in the company.