Category Archives: Business Tips

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.

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.

How Preventative Maintenance Can Extend the Life of Your Capital Equipment

Preventative Maintenance Kit

Preventative Maintenance Kit

When you choose to invest in a piece of material handling equipment, chances are you want something that will last a long time.  Just like purchasing a new car, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about each available option before you make a final selection. And just like maintaining a car, material handling equipment like drum handlers will require ongoing preventative maintenance and refurbishing to ensure optimal functioning and longevity.

To stay on top of preventative maintenance, it’s recommended that plant managers incorporate best practices by regularly checking and updating product tags in-house to see which products are due for inspection. Training staff on how to perform inspections and preventative service is also necessary to ensure that proper procedures are being followed.

There are many small material handling operations that may not have the time or resources to perform regular inspections or maintenance, however. In these cases, it’s often worth looking into companies that can perform these services for them.

At Liftomatic Material Handling, we not only manufacture and distribute drum handling products, we can also provide regular servicing for our customers.  We offer preventative maintenance kits and component replacements to help keep drum handlers in top shape. We understand that over time, parts like springs, pins, and jaws will wear out from constant use. We are able to provide 24-hour parts turnaround to most industrial regions and we also have in-house technical support to help customers with repairs and troubleshooting.

For more information about how we can serve your maintenance needs, call us at 800-837-6540 or visit We’re also available Twitter and LinkedIn.

What’s Your Best Customer Service Story?

Here at Liftomatic, we always strive to provide exemplary customer service. But we also like to give credit where credit is due – and so today we would like to recognize other offices that continue to impress us with their commitment to service.

The U.S. Postal Service is one of those organizations that many people benefit from every day without thinking much about it. Whether you’re on the receiving end of an important mailing, or if you’re the one trying to get the word out about something, chances are you’ll be counting on the local Post Office. At Liftomatic, we regularly send out direct marketing materials with product and service information. This amounts to hundreds of thousands of cards being sent out each year, and our distribution agreement with the Post Office ensures that each card is getting delivered to the intended recipient. Over the years we’ve gotten to know the local postal employees and they continue to serve us well.

In Wisconsin, where the winters are long and hard, many people even opt for Post Office Box (P.O. Box) addresses since a regular mailbox would get knocked down by plows or covered in snow. And for the snow birds that head to Florida for the winter, having a P.O. Box means you don’t have to worry about finding someone to take in your mail while you’re away. Having this option in place is just one more reason we appreciate our local Post Office. They’re always working hard to make our lives easier, even from a distance.

And it’s not just the Post Office helping customers from a distance. We recently paid a visit to one of our distribution partners in China, and were pleased to find such a global interconnectivity of customer support. The office there uses cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM), rather than the typical internal management database. This allows employees to have access to necessary records from wherever they are. Even if they can’t get to the office, they can pull up the information on a smartphone so that everything can continue smoothly without interruption.

What examples of great customer service have you personally experienced or witnessed lately? You can let us know on Twitter. We look forward to reading your stories.

What Businesses Can Learn from the Iditarod

Dogs Pulling Sled

Are the right dogs on your team?

When it comes to business, knowing where to place key employees can mean the difference between a winning or losing team. For anyone not familiar with the Iditarod, it’s a race held annually in Alaska for mushers and their dog team which lasts a grueling 938 miles and takes place over 8-15 days. The mushers train their dogs throughout the year in an effort to organize a winning team, and they look for certain traits and physical abilities to match dogs up to different jobs on the team.

The lead dog is always the fastest and most intelligent of the bunch, much like a person you’d want to have leading your company or organization. This employee might also be a visionary as well.

Next come the swing dogs whose job it is to guide the team around curves and turns. In business, this person would be someone who is able to tackle the hard stuff or be good at figuring out how to adjust the process to better equip the company to deal with short term issues or problems. Behind the swing dogs are the typical worker bees; dogs in these positions are there to do the general work that doesn’t require any specific qualities or abilities, just a willingness to do as they are commanded and be good, solid workers.

Finally, the wheel dogs are those nearest the sled. They are the strongest and largest of the team and are able to use their muscles to pull the weight of the sled, which can be well over 100 pounds. This person in a company is typically recognized as someone who’s in the office early, and often stays late to make sure that all deadlines are met.

Mushers also have to be willing to adjust when conditions aren’t perfect, whether it be hazardous conditions or not enough snow. Being able to respond and adjust to unexpected changes can keep a company afloat during difficult times. For example, with oil prices being low, some sectors are declining. Liftomatic serves a wide variety of industries, so we are able to make up that cash loss in other sectors which are doing well. Flexibility is necessary when competing in the world of business, just like in the Iditarod.

When hiring or streamlining a company, making use of your best prospects for various jobs will help to create a winning team. It can take time to figure out who works best in what position, but through trial and error, it can lead to a winning combination.