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A Lithium-Ion Battery Manufacturing Facility Attracts, Trains, and Retains a New Technical Workforce

iM3NY is an independent lithium-ion cell manufacturer based in Upstate New York. It is located on the same campus where IBM was founded and is bringing clean energy jobs into a region with a history of innovation. The iM3NY gigafactory construction began in 2021 and opened its doors to commercial production in 2022.

NYSERDA staff recently caught up with administrative employees at iM3NY and talked to them about how the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program has been working. Here’s what they had to say!

More than 50 new hires to date have been supported through NYSERDA’s On-the-Job Training Program, which covers a portion of new hires’ wages for the first 4-6 months of their employment.

What specific areas in your company has the OJT program helped the most and why? (i.e. Does it help you hire installers, project managers, everyone?)

We’ve used the program to hire staff in manufacturing and operations. “Manufacturing operator” is one of the popular jobs we hire for. Workers can be difficult to find due to the nature of manufacturing. But now we can hire at a slightly higher rate, which helps attract good candidates.

Examples of job titles and descriptions

Manufacturing Operator: A key member of the manufacturing team, the production operator is responsible for the continuous safe running of the manufacturing tools. Ensures components are dimensionally correct and in compliance with quality standards. Utilizes measurement tools/fixtures and visual standards. Assists tooling engineers in loading and removing tools/dies as necessary.

The manufacturing operator is also involved in specific tasks that include such things as:

  • manufacturing electrodes
  • understanding chemicals
  • weighing and mixing powders
  • operating a mixing machine
  • coating and quality of coating 
  • measuring and cutting electrodes, and more

Quality Technician: Tasks for this job include, among others:

  • In-process measurement and validation of controlled inspections
  • Inspection of chemicals, components, and materials 
  • Partake in repeatability and reproducibility 
  • Measurement systems analysis activities
  • Assist engineers and chemists in daily testing activities
  • Assist with problem solving and continuous improvement activities
  • Ensure control plans and standard work instructions are being followed

Manufacturing Technician: Manufacturing technicians perform these and other tasks:

  • Sets up and start equipment 
  • Coordinates machine operations with Operator(s) as required 
  • Clears mis-fed parts and restarts equipment
  • Routinely removes samples from the production line and validates dimensional accuracy and meeting all quality standards 
  • Monitors and adjusts equipment settings as needed and authorized 
  • Maintains a clean, safe, and orderly work environment 
  • Manages all waste removal generated by the equipment
  • Reports all non-conforming (don’t meet quality standards) materials 
  • Ensures all ancillary equipment is available for proper running of the machinery/tools

Do you anticipate your OJT hires to be good candidates for advancement within the company?

Yes. There is a good amount of opportunity for advancement. As long as employees maintain their attendance, the hope is for them to start at an entry level and then move all the way through team leads.

Already there have been two hires that moved from manufacturing operations to manufacturing technicians. One OJT hire was recently promoted to a manufacturing supervisor. And another new hire has been promoted to team lead.

Half of the workers hired have been residents of frontline or historically marginalized communities or are single parents, veterans, energy workers looking to retrain or upskill, or other people that New York State could describe as “priority populations.”

What impact has the program had on your organization’s overall training and development strategy?

We’ve developed a training plan that has allowed us to take a closer look at safety and quality areas of new worker training.

Would you recommend the OJT program to other businesses and if so, why?

Yes, we would. Some of the new hires need a little extra support and we love to work with the types of people who might be looking for “a second chance.” And of course, saving money through the wage reimbursements was a great benefit!

Learn more about NYSERDA’s On-the-Job Training Program.

Visit: https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/OJT. To learn more about battery manufacturing jobs, visit the iM3NY website Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..