Liftomatic Welcomes New Board Member Mark Mandell

When operating a business, it’s important to stay ahead of new trends and welcome new ideas. The best way of doing this is by attracting industry leaders with experience who can offer fresh perspectives.

Recently, Liftomatic Material Handling added a new member to our board of directors. Mark Mandell has already received his board binder and has hit the ground running, getting caught up on our past notes and financial information.

Mark is the President and founder of Mandell Advisory Group, Ltd., and he will continue to provide our tax and international services through the firm. His expertise spans tax research and planning and transactional consulting. His vast knowledge and skill is helping us move forward, and he’s already made some exciting contributions as a member of our board.

Previously, Mark was a Managing Director for American Express Tax and Business Services, Inc./RSM McGladrey Inc. and the director of tax services. He frequently speaks on behalf of the Illinois CPA Society and the Independent Accountants Society, sharing his knowledge with members.

Mark has also served as Chairman of the North Shore Tax Forum Group and was a board member for the Young Men’s Jewish Council. He maintains membership with the Illinois CPA Society and the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts.

Liftomatic looks forward to working with Mark and taking advantage of his skills and expertise. Through partnerships like this, we can continue to move forward and be seen as a force to be reckoned with in material handling.

The Value of Cross Training Employees in Manufacturing Positions

The factory floor is a busy place. There are literally thousands of moving parts and familiarity is one of the key attributes that can keep workers safe. For this reason, countless hours, days, and weeks are invested in properly training employees on the correct procedures for performing their jobs. But lately, more manufacturers are taking skilled workers out of their current positions, and offering cross training opportunities in different areas of the company. The aim is to expose workers to more than one type of job.

For example, a wire and assembly pro may be put in charge of training workers who normally work in packaging. If some of these employees show potential, they are encouraged to take special courses or credits that further establish their competence in the new arena.

Cross training does not undermine existing skills. It adds depth and variety to the talent’s portfolio allowing the company to better leverage capabilities possessed by the workforce. It also offers seasoned workers the chance to mentor newer employees and pass along their vast knowledgebase.

Why is Cross Training Valuable? 

Cross training is not only a wise decision, it is also the need of the hour.

  1. From now until 2030, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers will retire every day. The US manufacturing sector boasts about 13,000,000 jobs out of which most of the positions are held by Boomers. Despite best efforts, companies are having a hard time bringing fresh talent onboard and the skills gap is widening. If the Millennials who are invested in manufacturing are equipped with a diverse skill set, they can plug the holes in production.

 

  1. Gallup’s engagement survey has forced companies to view job satisfaction in a different light. According to the numbers, 1 in 3 US employees is disengaged at work. And this lack of interest is what leads to poor performance as well as eventual churn. So how does disengagement set in? Mundane tasks and unvarying routine are two culprits. Cross training works wonder in such a setting. It can re-ignite the spark of passion in employees and give them stimulating challenges to meet. Cross training improves employee accountability and offers a sense of growth to the workers.

Cross training is being hailed by experts as a great substitute to hiring temporary employees. The workers may shuttle between departments but their sense of loyalty and understanding of company values continues to grow. This is a huge advantage that leads to greater productivity.

Liftomatic has already implemented a cross-training initiative that matches younger workers with experts in other departments to see who is interested and able to pick up a new skill. In 2017, we’ll continue the program and are taking into account worker preferences to craft programs that involve seasoned veterans as well as new talent for a balanced mix of experience and originality. The anticipated pay-offs include lower production costs, leaner production processes and better adherence to deadlines.

Lessons from ChemEdge™ – Responding to the Chemical Distribution Industry’s Need for Productivity

Each year, members of the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) gather to discuss current operational opportunities, productivity enhancement, regulatory issues and training updates at the ChemEdge conference.  The event provides training and education on all matters relevant to the manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and service and support for the chemical industry.  The conference brings together hundreds of member companies from around  the country to discuss best practices.

Liftomatic ChemEdge Booth

Liftomatic Representatives at ChemEdge 2016

The 2016 event was held at The Woodlands, Texas and brought together over 400 enterprise  members, sharing information, technology and products and services to make the industry ever more responsible, efficient and profitability.

One item that’s been discussed with more frequency throughout the NACD community is the concept of “unitized handling.” This relates to packaging  and material handling techniques that lend themselves to efficiency, safety and cost effectiveness.

Unitization of Drum Loads

2-Drum Attachments for Drum Handling

Liftomatic has continually monitored and responded to industry’s efforts to improve the unitization of drum loads.  Beginning with simple 2-drum attachments for handling steel drums to a 4-drum unitized handling device for engaging all steel, plastic and fiber drums, Liftomatic products offer users an array of choices to reduce packaging costs (elimination or reduction of pallets) and space savings through stacking, storing and distribution routines . Automatic and mechanical forklift attachments allow drum users to increase safety and efficiency while greatly enhancing  the unitized load concept.

The NACD will hold ChemEdge 2017 at The Omni Nashville  from August 15-18, 2017. For more information, contact the NACD at www.NACD.COM. We look forward to seeing you at the next show!

*ChemEdge is a Trademark of the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD)

Celebrating 70 Years of Success in 2017

1947 was a big year. Gregory Peck and Rosalind Russell won Golden Globes. The movie, “The Best Years of our Lives” was selected as Best Picture. The International Monetary Fund began operations. The largest group of sunspots ever recorded happened in ’47. Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play major league baseball. And explorer Thor Heyerdahl sailed his famed craft the “Kon-Tiki” from Peru to Polynesia.

1940s Drum Handler

An original model 10-HT hand truck in the late 1940’s

Also in 1947, two guys armed with an idea to improve productivity, safety and efficiency in drum handling technology, started Liftomatic Material Handling, Inc. The product of necessity, marketing and engineering acumen, these two gentlemen saw a need – and filled it. One a plant manager and engineer of Norwegian descent, the other a salesmen of mechanical office equipment who hailed from Sweden. Together, they built on a concept that included a two wheel hand-truck with a  positive grip mechanism (later to be named the “Parrot-Beak®”) which would hold a 55-gallon drum during transport and placement. The first 6 hand trucks were sold to the DuPont corporation in Chicago in the spring of 1947.

From those early developments to the advent and nationwide adoption of the forklift truck during the early stages of the Korean conflict, Liftomatic products kept pace with the times. Increasing popularity for unitized handling concepts, bulk transfer, cubic storage and warehousing efficiency saw the Liftomatic product line grow from 1 to over 20 products in just 10 years.

During the last 40 years, we’ve tried to stay true to the founders’ mission: Build safe, durable products with input from customers and always remember that “The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten”. Today, the Parrot-Beak® line of products includes more than 40 models in 120 configurations.  Whether your operations require handling 1 drum per week or a thousand per day, there’s a Liftomatic model suited to your requirements.

We look forward to bringing you some additional history of Liftomatic products as we go through this 70th anniversary year.  We also look forward to serving your operations for the next 70. As always, we thank you for your trust in Liftomatic.

Best regards,

E. Darren Berg, President

What’s the Buzz on Honey Production in the US?

Honey bees are famous for being busy.

Honey Production Trends

US Honey Production

They not only produce honey, which is a staple in the diet of most US based families, they also pollinate many of the plants that feed people around the world. In 2010 these bees with other pollinators of their kind were responsible for $19 billion of agricultural crops in the country. That is a major chunk of the GDP as well as the food supply.

Unfortunately the past several years haven’t been kind to honey bees. And unless the government, honey consumers and third party service providers like packers do not come together to enforce stricter laws and the use of bee friendly pesticides, the US may be in for several more instances of honey bee colony collapses.

The Unusual Die-Offs:

Research by the USDA has confirmed that 44% of honey bee colonies have been decimated across the United States in 2015. This is a major blow because controlling bodies and bee keepers were optimistic of seeing an improvement in the attrition rate after concerted efforts to conserve the bee population.

In general about 30% of bee colonies are lost in extreme weather. But the increasingly higher number of die offs is not the norm and indicates a need to investigate further.

The general consensus identifies neonicotinoid pesticides as the culprit.

The EPA is finally in the process of taking action against the use of bee killing chemicals but it is likely to be a while before the positive effect of this policy change is evident.

Illegally Imported Honey:

Illegally imported honey is another issue plaguing the honey production sector and bee keepers in the US. Since nectar production is suffering because of the unusual die-offs but the demand for honey hasn’t decreased, there is a gap in the market which is being filled by illegal honey imports from countries like China. This is detrimental to the local industry and bee keepers are being pushed to keep up with the requirements of the nation so that fraudulently procured honey doesn’t play with the health of consumers.

The True Source Certification: A Silver Lining

There is some good news though! True Source LLC has developed an independent certification through which all contact points in the honey supply chain can work together to eradicate the problem of illegally imported honey. This certification traces the origin of the honey being consumed from the buyers to the retail distributors to the packers to the bee keepers and each phase of the operation is defined by certain quality criteria which must be adhered to.

Things may not be optimal right now but experts believe that the awareness around the plight of honey bees and the malpractices in the honey production industry will lead to revolutionizing of the sector followed by an upsurge in both demand and supply.

Liftomatic has been the market leader in material handling equipment for the past 60 years. We are ready to serve bee keepers and honey handlers with state of the art drum handling equipment that can be used in just about all phases of the supply chain.

Understanding the Importance of Remote Control Technology in Material Handling

Using remote control technology might not be new in material handling, but it has advanced greatly over the years, allowing for safer working conditions and better control.

To modernize more warehouses around the world, we’re rolling out even more equipment with remote control technology. This adds a greater amount of safety to the workplace and is convenient to material handling operations. There are numerous materials that can be hazardous to a person’s health, so it’s important to keep a safe distance when possible. Remote control technology can be used with gantry cranes, container handling equipment, overhead cranes, and even coil handling equipment. This type of material handling allows operators to focus more on their load than the equipment itself, keeping everyone safe.

Maneuvering heavy drums can be difficult to do by hand, and dangerous when toxic chemicals are inside. Remote control options allow operators to work with drums from the safety of their forklift or other equipment they are handling.

Liftomatic Material Handling understands material handling equipment for drum and barrel handling applications better than anyone. We have been in business for almost 70 years and understand the importance of safety and keeping your business profitable. To learn more about the many remote control options for your warehouse, feel free to call 1-800-837-6540 to speak with a representative.

Customer Service in a Globalized World

In the modern economy, almost every business has to operate on a global level. Whether you are buying or selling materials, finished products, or services, you need to be aware of the issues present in a global market.

Don’t Get Lost in Translation

For industries and businesses where dealing with people from other countries is the norm, it’s important to have multilingual support. This demonstrates that you are committed to international business, and can create happier customers through superior customer service. Having multilingual employees, or encouraging the learning of other languages, can pay off at home and abroad.

Measure Up

Not every country follows the same rules for units of measurements, and many countries follow different sizing schemes. Sometimes it can be as simple as converting metric to imperial units. Some systems can be a bit more difficult to deal with – for instance, clothing and shoe sizing differs from one country to the next, and there is often no rhyme or reason as to converting from one system to another. If your products will be exported or used by customers who are familiar with a different system, make sure there’s an easy to follow conversion chart.

Helping Your Workers and Customers

Stay up to date on global news matters – Demonstrating that you are keeping an eye out for things that may affect travel or business conduct and alerting your customers and employees immediately allows for alternate plans to be made. Also stay abreast of compliance changes and regulations. Many countries have strict policies regarding business practices, human resources, and import and export regulations. Make sure you know about changes that may impact your customers.

A poor experience can deter a customer from doing further business with you, or from operating in different countries at all. Knowing all of this can improve experiences, and lead to smoother business interactions across borders. Here at Liftomatic Material Handling, we are committed to providing the best experience possible for our drum handling customers, whether you are a business based on the other side of town, or on the other side of the world.

New Technologies Enhancing the Oil and Gas Sector

As technology continues to develop at break-neck speed, the industrial sector continues to find new ways to improve processes thanks to these upgrades. The oil and gas sector is no different in this regard.

For example, you’ve likely been reading a lot about drones being used in various applications lately – from faster delivery options for retailers, to improving the safety of military personnel by providing a bird’s eye view of potentially dangerous locales. You’ve probably also seen at least one hovering overhead at a large fair or other gathering as consumers have begun adopting them for personal photography and video recording. And leaders in the oil and gas sector are catching on, too.

At BP, drones are now being used as a tool to provide more detailed inspections, detect possible leaks, and assess spill damage in areas that can’t easily be accessed by people. The company also sees similar benefits as the military, as they are able to keep better tabs on security threats from above. In areas like the Middle East, which are rich in oil but not always safe for workers, having the ability to monitor worksites and infrastructure remotely is a major benefit.

Other technologies shaking up the oil and gas sector include the use of ultrasonic and electromagnetic techniques to inspect process vessels. “The Asset Integrity Theme Landscaping Study,” commissioned by Oil and Gas UK looked into this, as well as using sound and microwave sensing to inspect corrosion in structures such as pipelines. Overall, the main goal in this field is to improve problem detection and visibility to avoid major issues from cropping up in the future. Many methods are coming about to accomplish this goal thanks to new technologies.

As new advancements continue to develop, we look forward to seeing how they can improve the oil and gas supply chain.oil drilling

Revisiting “Green” Challenges and Opportunities for Industrial Companies

Back in February, we discussed “Green Initiatives” and what companies big and small can do to provide greater sustainability. Our focus on the topic developed through many discussions internally, with vendors, customers and strategic partners, spearheaded by mostly younger managers here.  Sometimes those discussions became heated as “Traditionalists” battled the “Firebrands” for the “moral and practical” high ground. Now, with April being Earth Month, we felt it was time to revisit this topic to better explain how we do things on a personal level, and why.

On a basic level, we realize that every choice we make will impact other businesses in some way. Take hand-washing, for example: In public facilities, we’re often given the choice of using paper towels or an electric hand dryer to dry off. Many  people will head straight for the electric dryer in an effort to save paper, but many industrial leaders won’t. Aside from the argument for overall cleanliness (hand blowers spread thousands of germs during use), there’s also the argument for our customers. Paper companies buy our products for their production, warehousing and transportation requirements.  We are a traditional supplier to traditional industries, and while the mold must be recast and re-designed from time to time as demands and perceptions change, the smashing of the mold altogether all at once will severely impact our business and our industry.

However, this isn’t to say that we’re against change altogether. As the next generation begins to take over the shop floor, we as leaders need to provide some support and guidance to keep things running and attract new talent.  Shutting down new ideas doesn’t encourage growth, so it’s all about finding a balance between sustainable environmental practices and building a sustainable business model.

Industrial QR Code

QR Codes for Material Handling Equipment

As such, Liftomatic is proud to announce to our customers, present and future- that we’ve adopted several new protocols to decrease our footprint, while emphasizing cost control for our customers and stability for our organization. Beginning in the second quarter of 2016, we’re including all new QR code labels on every Liftomatic product. Doing so will allow a tremendous reduction in paper between us and our customers; it will allow you to access needed information, technical specs, bulletins and parts and maintenance requirements  directly from our website using any hand held mobile device. Further, we’ve contracted for state-of-the-art LED lighting throughout our production facility here in Illinois. It’s a significant investment, but the appropriate managers proved their case with ROI and the spirit of the initiative and we’ve agreed to proceed.

We’re also looking at changes in packaging, communications and production,  and we’ll continue to provide updates as they come. As we near our 70th anniversary, Liftomatic will continue to work diligently to challenge convention, ask the un-asked questions and look at all of the angles to continue bringing the highest quality, most durable, and safest drum handling devices that are available anywhere in the world.  We continue to keep that focus first and foremost.

3 Tools to Improve Trucking Efficiency

Workers in the trucking sector face a number of challenges on the road. From keeping track of their driving time, to finding areas to rest and eat, and then moving materials on and off the trucks at each stop. It’s a rewarding job, but one that requires a lot of planning and a lot of muscle. Fortunately, incorporating the right tools into your process can greatly improve your time on and off the road.

Fleet Tracking Tools

One of the major issues associated with managing a large fleet is keeping track of all of the drivers and shipments. GPS truck tracking systems make things easier by allowing companies to monitor everything from truck speed, idling time, breaks during the day, etc. It also improves customer service since customers can be made aware of where their shipments are and when they can be expected to arrive.

Living on the Go

Truck drivers don’t have a lot of options when it comes to eating and sleeping during a long trip. They depend heavily on rest stops along the way, which can be few and far between. App developers have caught on to the need for this information, and have designed a few apps available for download that help drivers find the nearest rest stops from wherever they are. A number of options are available for download, such as Rest Stops Plus.  “Team-driving,” often involving husband and wife teams- has become popular today too!

Product Loading/Unloading

A trucker’s job doesn’t end once he or she gets to a destination. Loading and unloading materials is the next step. Since many products are shipped in 55-gallon drums, it’s important for fleet managers to provide workers with the proper drum handling equipment. A regular forklift doesn’t have the right attachments to secure drums, so providing hand truck drum handlers, which are portable and can carry up to 1,000lbs, offer an added layer of safety and utility.

Of course, transportation and shipping companies have many more challenges to contend with than those mentioned above. For companies that provide global freight service, like Estes Express or FedEx, monitoring shipments through air and across oceans presents its own set of challenges. But thanks to modern technology, even these jobs are getting easier to manage. We’re always interested in the next innovations to come out of this sector, and are continuously adding to our own product lines of drum handling equipment to provide even more solutions.