The Knowledge Resource for the World of Grain Handling and Processing Industry Operations

How Can Hands-On Training Impact Your Career?

For Rhonda Knutson, it Diversified Job Skills and Can Save Company Money

In December 2017, Rhonda Knutson  was among the first to take Hands-On Training (HOT). When Rhonda took the training, she was the bookkeeping/accounts manager. Today, she is a facility manager.

Please tell us about your company.
I work for United Grain Corporation of Oregon as the elevator manager at the facility in Pompey’s Pillar, Montana. At my facility, we have four full-time employees and some intermittent employees who help drive the locomotive during the loadout process. Our location mainly deals in hard red winter wheat and spring wheat, and now we’ll be handling soybeans, too.

Why did you decide to take Hands-On Training?
It’s an area where I don’t have a strong background, and I wanted to diversify myself so I’d better qualify for moves within the company. My goal was to understand more about the inner workings of each piece of equipment and be able to troubleshoot routine issues. I love the idea of working on the very equipment my facility runs, under the instruction of a highly qualified individual who understands it inside and out. I wanted to experience the right way of checking and repairing equipment, and understand the preventive maintenance that should be performed to help extend the equipment’s life.

Any tips on how to get this course approved by a manager?
I contacted senior management in corporate about why I thought it would be beneficial to participate. This course could save a company money in the long run. Employees receive training, proper instruction and hands-on experience working with real-life equipment and situations. So many issues can be alleviated or minimized through proper routine maintenance. Otherwise, much of the repair and maintenance is done when equipment breaks down.

What did you like about training?
People accepted me for who I was and what I wanted from the program. I may not have understood all the mechanics, but I could grasp more about each piece of equipment and the part it
plays within the facility. I also learned from others’ questions and experience, and related them back to situations that we have faced. I met so many nice people who all wanted to learn the best practices to make their jobs easier and safer, if possible. The networking was amazing and I look forward to getting together with them in the future.

What did you learn that you could apply at your job?
Learning more industry terminology means I can communicate more effectively with the staff. I work with the assistant manager at my new location – getting to know the equipment better and putting my training into action. We identify areas that need attention and complete needed preventive maintenance.

How was working with actual equipment a big part of the training’s value?
The hands-on part is essential. Seeing pictures and hearing scenarios is fine, but to physically touch and maneuver the equipment and tools gives a whole new understanding. Many people just learn better by doing. Elevator equipment maintenance is hands on, so the training should be, too. Learning by doing reinforces the concepts and gives everyone a better picture to apply to future situations.