Lifting the Burden of Old-Fashioned Lifting Magnets

Custom Engineering, a company located in Erie, PA, specializes in medium to heavy fabrication and contract machining, and is known for the manufacture and refurbishing of heating platens for virtually every make of hydraulic press. The company maintains a 140,000 square-foot manufacturing facility and employs more than 150 people.

The safety professionals at Custom Engineering are always looking for ways to improve operations and provide a safe and productive workplace for their employees. So when company supervisors realized that employees in the company’s materials management crew were continually suffering from back injuries, they immediately began searching for a solution to maintain efficiency and help improve safety. They began by closely observing the employees at on the job.


To move heavy steel plates, operators were using a manual-locking magnet suspended from an overhead crane. Employees were often forced to reach across plates or climb on top of them to turn the magnet on or off. It was obvious that these practices were a factor in the employees’ frequent back injuries, but there were additional problems. To activate this style of magnet, operators had to put their foot or hand on the magnet and pull back the attached lever. This procedure put operators at risk for injuries that sometimes occurred when the lever propelled back at them. Management determined that the problematic magnet would need to be replaced with something better. They knew just where to turn for recommendations: Eriez Magnetics®, a leading manufacturer in magnetics, also located in Erie, PA.

After looking carefully at the situation and considering Custom Engineering’s needs, Eriez recommended one of the company’s SafeHold®APL Series Permanent Lifting Magnets.

The SafeHold APL Series Magnet is ideal for loading and unloading steel sheets from burn tables or anywhere that limits operator access. Eriez’s SafeHold APL Series Permanent Lifting Magnets offer many benefits: they can lift and transfer steel and iron without slings, hooks or cables—and without marring the surface; and they require fewer operators and helpers than the older magnets. These magnets, which can be used singly or in multiples on a spreader beam, turn on and off automatically to provide smooth operation for hundreds of lifting-positioning applications. And since they don’t require any electricity, there’s no chance of power failures interrupting a facility’s operations.  

Immediately after replacing the old magnet with the APL-154, Custom Engineering began to see an increase in production and a decrease in injuries. Management is thrilled with the positive results that have come from purchasing the new magnet. But nobody is more appreciative of the ease of operation the new magnet affords than the individuals who work with the magnet every day, typically 7 of their 8-hour shifts. Mike Monroe, Burner Programmer, explains, “In this industry, everybody’s battling back pain, anything to reduce [the pain] is a Godsend.”

Besides a reduction in back pain, operators have also noticed a significant reduction in the amount of time it takes to move scrap and parts with the APL-154. “With the old magnet, we had to precisely measure out the material to place the magnet on the center of the load. With the APL, it’s much easier to balance the load. We’re able to just estimate the center of the load, lower the magnet into place and quickly lift material,” said Monroe.

SafeHold® EPL Series Lifting Magnets offer many of the same great benefits as the APL Series. EPL Series magnets require no power supply and enable users to lift, move or position materials quickly and easily without slings, hooks or cables. These magnets, which won’t mar surfaces, are ideal for carrying semi-finished products with flat surfaces such as machine parts, press molds for forming, and steel plates. Their internal on-off changeover mechanism eliminates possible scratches on the work surface that can occur from loading and unloading. These small and lightweight magnets feature an incredibly powerful magnetic force.

Staff using the EPL magnets have also benefited from EPL’s safety features. Charlie Smith, Fitter, says, “The safety lock on these Eriez magnets works much better than on the old ones.” Smith describes the safety hazards of the older magnets, “People used to get their fingers smashed because of the unreliable safety lock on the old magnets. With this one, once it’s locked down, it stays down.”

Thanks to the advanced design of Eriez’ EPL and APL Series Lifting magnets, the problems caused by old-fashioned lifting magnets at Custom Engineering have been eliminated, and the company is confident that these new magnets will help their operations run smoothly for many years to come.

Article Courtesy of Eriez Manufacturing Company