Container unloading dilemma and solution (Part 2)

Airports & Ports, Logistics

The TAWI Mobile High-Frequency Lifter uses our tested vacuum technology, adding flexibility to the container unloading dilemma.

TAWI solution for container unloading

We recently published the first part of this article, explaining the logistics industry’s main challenges in container loading and unloading.

As a continuation of that topic, permit us to introduce the new TAWI Mobile High-Frequency Lifter (MHL). Push it on a pallet jack, take it inside your container, connect it to a source of electricity and start unloading from the top of the stack with a gentle squeeze of an ergonomic trigger.

The Mobile High-Frequency Lifter uses TAWI’s tried and tested vacuum technology to grasp items and release them onto a pallet or conveyor.

Our Nordics Sales Manager, Anders Knapasjö, has been centrally involved in developing this solution, and he answered our questions in an interview:

What is the main problem that the Mobile High-Frequency Lifter helps to face?

The purpose of the unit itself is quite simple: its function is to lift objects from a container or trailer onto a conveyor or pallet.

The Mobile High-Frequency Lifter takes away 90% of the pain with unloading items of up to 50kg. It is very versatile. You can attach multiple suction tools, which makes it possible to lift various objects. This is a plug-and-play machine, you just need an external power supply, and off you go. This lifting solution is nimble; you can move it on a pallet jack from place to place, so one machine can serve an entire warehouse – you don’t need to install one at each gate.

Why has nobody done something like this before?

The problem has always been the cramped conditions inside containers. These are only 2.4m (7’10”) from floor to ceiling.

Most lifting machines require significant headroom above the object to be lifted, making it impossible to lift objects high up in the container. We have solved this with a patented “elbow” and wheel system that inverts most of the steel vacuum tube by 90° from vertical to horizontal. This solution means the MHL can reach up to the highest lifting points in a container. Nothing else on the market can do this. 

Unloading a container using a mobile vacuum lifter

How easy is it to use?

User-friendliness is key, both in terms of getting to know the machine and then putting it to use. The Mobile High-Frequency Lifter is extremely easy to use. It takes just a few minutes to learn how to use it efficiently. There is one trigger to move an object up and down, and another to release the load.

Is its use confined to unloading?

No. So far we have only talked about using the MHL inside a container. But after you have emptied it, maybe you want to move stuff from one pallet to another. Then you can simply move the product and pick and place your objects wherever you like. Maybe you need to repack items somewhere inside the terminal – again, use our Mobile
High-Frequency Lifter. In other words, this mobile machine has the potential to eliminate manual lifting inside the terminal also, making it easy to adapt in a fast-changing environment with high production demands.

Is this lifting solution as fast as a person?

The difference is that the machine can keep up the same tempo throughout a working day, while a person slows down and needs to rest. So over a full shift, the Mobile High-Frequency Lifter is faster than a person. In general, manual handling will be faster than using mechanical help over the first hour or so. But by the third hour, the speed of each method is the same. After three and four hours, the machine beats the person every time because it never gets tired. This is quite crucial because the logistics business is all about speed.

What implies for a company using this new solution?

Firstly, depending on what you are lifting, the Mobile High-Frequency Lifter can turn a two-person lift into a one-person lift. In this case, the ROI is a no-brainer. In certain countries, you also have insurance issues, such as in the USA where you don’t have the same health service provision as in western Europe. So logistics companies must pay a high insurance premium. If they can tell the insurance company that they have a lifting aid that takes away the risk to workers, this is another big part of the ROI.

But there are multiple efficiency gains with switching away from manual unloading. Staff turnover falls dramatically, while a large new recruitment pool opens up because anyone can lift anything with our product, whether they are old or young, male or female, big or small.

The MHL also means you can work for hours at the same tempo, so you can calculate more rationally how long particular tasks will take and the resources you will need to do them. This in turn means you can plan much more accurately, making for a more efficient flow of goods into the terminal and into the warehouse. It is all about making the logistics flow as smooth and predictable as possible. This brings a lot of positive effects beyond simply lifting inside the container. It is suddenly easier to allocate resources such as people, forklifts and so on – there is a domino effect throughout the business.

So the MHL does everything except make the coffee?

Any machine has its limitations. Logistics involves multiple challenges, and the MHL won’t be right for every task. Here are some things to be aware of:

  • To expect this unit to lift everything is unrealistic. It will handle 80-90% of objects, but some will be outside its range.
  • Depending on the items and how they are packed, the top layer in the container can be a problem. If the container is crammed to the ceiling, you may manually pull out the top layer before the MHL can take over.
  • When fully extended, the arm is 2m (6’7”) long and rotates 360 degrees, which means you can reach a maximum of 4m. With a crane system attached to the warehouse ceiling, you can lift objects as far as 10m.
  • Sometimes a fixed crane vacuum lifting system will be more efficient in the long run for a particular task. For example, if you have a fixed conveyor in the warehouse and are sorting from the belt to pallets, the MHL probably doesn’t have the necessary reach. The MHL is a flexible solution for companies looking to move around with multiple pickup points.

The MHL is a simple solution for container unloading

The Mobile High-frequency Lifter is already on the market and available now. Although we cannot talk about it with specific customers, TAWI works with all the major logistics companies globally, and many are already using this machine. These companies are constantly changing their logistics infrastructure in response to customer needs. With the TAWI Mobile High-Frequency Lifter,  you just take a pallet jack and move it around. Sometimes its better to have two or three MHL units than one fixed crane system. The technology is based on a proven concept that is highly reliable.

“It might seem like we are saying that this one unit can fix everything, but logistics has multiple challenges,” Anders Knapasjö says.

“From a wider perspective, what we are trying to solve as a company, is to connect the dots within the matrix of logistics challenges – TAWI has a broad assortment of smart vacuum-lifting solutions to do this. Together with our customers, we are constantly trying to develop new solutions to tick off as many dots in the matrix as possible. The Mobile High-Frequency Lifter takes out several rows and columns in the matrix. We see it as the start of a new generation of mechanical aids to solve the complex issues identified above.”

More about this solution here

To learn more about this topic, read the first part of this interview here.


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