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Product focus: Integrating material handling equipment

Product focus: Integrating material handling equipment

Within factories today the focus extends from the basis of producing goods at the most profitable rate whilst retaining high quality and safety. Increasing online demands and extended consumer opening times means goods are required finished, packaged and dispatched faster.

Current talk about Industry 4.0 which offers insightful suggestions for the smart factory is for many UK manufacturers a far away ideal.  Complete automation is often not an attainable destination due to ‘personalised’ production – offering extra customer value. With or without automation, factories can still work towards being smart factories starting with using material handling equipment to improve safety and quality.

Customer value begins in design and is carried through production. To maintain quality, consistency and safety, material handling solutions which integrate with human precision and control and with existing machinery offer longer term productivity benefits.  In particular, a common task such as handling boxes and sacks often involves lifting and carrying various loads of different shapes and sizes. The individual operator during the multiple processes might be required to switch between manual tasks, increasing the risk of strains and injuries.

In processing areas where human control is required, ergonomic lightweight lifting trolleys, vacuum lifting systems and height adjustable scissor lift tables have shown to integrate well, particularly where repetitive lifting and bending is involved.

A recently installed vacuum lifting solution provided by Advanced Handling involved 50kg cardboard boxes. With each box positioned on the floor the operator was previously required by hand to open the box, remove the bag inside and empty the contents into a drum. This three stage process was improved with the installation of a vacuum tube lifter.

Using the Vacuhand V the tube lifter performs the lifting of the boxes to the floor, and the operator is able to open the bags while they are held in position using the ‘hands off hover’ function; allowing the contents of the bags to be emptied directly in to the drums. An internal protection grid was also added to the oval shaped suction head to protect the bags and stop them blocking the lifting tube.

Attached to a jib crane, a three metre working radius was provided to suit this application, however the vacuum lifting solution is adaptable to different processes and working environments and can be designed to be fixed to the floor, a wall mounted crane or on overhead rails.

Designed for handling boxes and sacks from 50kg up to 160kg this vacuum lifter absorbs the load weight allowing the control and precision to be handled by the operator, which retains quality and improves the ergonomic work flow.

Integrated material handling solutions will be on display on the Advanced Handling stand H86 at the PPMA Show with live demonstrations of box, sack, reel and drum handling.

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