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Add the “why” to the “how” in your training

Business, Safety | June 1, 2021 | By:

Important things every installer should know.

by Mike Holland

Most tent installers receive on-the-job training. Oftentimes it is on a need-to-know basis that is determined by the supervisor or the peers who are on-site. 

When training a new team member, trainers should not only explain how something is done, but they should also explain why something is done a particular way. Taking the time to explain why will help develop better team members and will increase their overall development.

Let’s examine a few tent installation “hows” and “whys” that a supervisor or trainer might encounter while on a job site. While there are different ways of doing things across the Tent Rental Division, the following are intended to get you thinking about your training process.  

Tensioning structure cables

When tensioning structure cables, there are multiple aspects to consider. For example, the placement of turnbuckles is important because some companies place them at the top of the beam. In this position, a ladder is required and the roof cables can be tightened at the same time. Others place the turnbuckle at the bottom of the leg so they do not need to use a ladder.

Cables or struts are the strength of the structure. If these are not tight enough, or if they are removed too early, the structure can collapse. Be sure to explain that these components are a key part to the stability of the structure. The design of most rental structures use drop-in purlins with no need to bolt them to the rafters. The cables or struts are the bolts that hold the rafters, legs and purlins in place. Once removed there is nothing that stabilizes the structure.

Squaring or leveling the first bay can make installation smoother and allow fabric to pull through easier. When a structure is improperly squared it will add time and difficulty while pulling your fabric. This can cause safety issues and frustrate crew members.

Raising and lowering structure arches

Regardless of the size of the structure, raising and lowering arches is a task that takes time and is one that should be done with great care and safety. Where to stand—and where not to stand—should be explained thoroughly. Other areas to detail include: not putting the frame in a bind; checking all harness, straps and purlin forks; and making sure all pins are secure and nuts and bolts are tight. 

Proper staking

The IFAI Staking Study is an excellent training tool and provides tent renters with data that can be used to estimate the holding power of traditional tent stakes. When training, explain the importance of driving each stake to its full depth and why angled stakes should be avoided. Proper distances for double or gang staking and care in removing stakes from asphalt should also be addressed. 

Tensioning fabric

Frame tent straps that are not properly tensioned may hold water and eventually cause the tent to collapse. Ratchets or spindles used for tightening fabric should have the correct tension. Proper tensioning of poles gives them stability as well as keeps them from holding water. If not tensioned properly, the poles can lift off the ground causing the tent to fail.

Jumper lines

Jumper lines are designed for holding the pole to the fabric should the tent be lifted in a windstorm. If the lines are installed improperly, they could damage the tent or cause the tent to collapse. When training a new employee, be sure to stress the fact that all jumper lines should be tied properly and tight. The knots should be in line with the attachment point of the jumper line. Note: some companies tape jumper lines to the pole on long-term installations. 

In-the-know employees

While many tent and event rental companies follow different training methods and procedures, it is important to add the “why” to the “how” when training employees. Proper training will not only ensure that methods and procedures remain consistent throughout your organization, but it will also produce better team players and encourage employees to pursue advancement within your organization. 

Mike Holland, CERP, is the president and owner of Tennessee-based Chattanooga Tent Company.


SIDEBAR: Knowing the why

Taking the time to explain “why” in conjunction with “how” during training will ensure that team members are better equipped to:

  • Make decisions in the absence of direction.
  • Provide alternatives.
  • Make necessary adjustments if original instructions prove to be insufficient/incorrect.

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