Having access to the best possible lifting equipment will greatly benefit staff health and productivity in any warehousing or manufacturing setting. The biggest challenge is having to choose the right lifting equipment, which often involves a complex selection process and a considerable investment in both time and finances. No two workplaces are identical in terms of size, layout or material handling requirements, meaning individual approaches are usually necessary to fully meet the requirements of a specific workplace. This article is a short guide to get you started in the selection process – and an overview of what types of equipment are best suited for or can be adapted to suit your specific manual handling needs.
How to choose the right Lifting Equipment…Do you know what you need?
Before making an investment decision around lifting equipment, it’s important to evaluate the areas that need to be improved and find out what the options are. This article will help you to choose the right lifting equipment for your needs.
Factors to consider include:
Nature of the Goods
One of the most important steps in selecting the right lifting equipment is ensuring that the equipment is well suited for its loads. For example, vacuum lifting systems are normally selected and customised for lifting a specific load, such as sheets, bags or boxes – all of which require different tools and components. Take account of the following to narrow down your options:
- What is the size, shape and weight of the standard item you need to lift? Vacuum pumps must be installed accordingly, and cranes, hoists and their mounting structures must be adapted for the heaviest loads plus a safety margin.
- How are the goods packaged and stored (e.g. in bags, drums, pallets)? Many types of lifting equipment such as our lifting trolleys, can be fitted with a range of tools that simplify the handling of standardised goods.
- What is the nature of the surface material (e.g. is it metal, textile, or wood)? This will affect (amongst other things) the dimensions of the vacuum pump and other components you need in specialised lifting equipment.
- Are the materials or environment sensitive? Facilities that have strict hygiene requirements, e.g. in the pharmaceutical or food processing industries, will usually opt for stainless steel lifting equipment which is smooth and seamless, reducing particle build up and making it easy to clean.
- Are the materials hazardous? When handling goods in a potentially explosive environment, choose lifting equipment that does not risk causing sparks, such as TAWI’s explosion-proof lifter which is just one of our ATEX ready solutions.
Keeping staff safe, healthy and happy is absolutely paramount no matter what the environment. Minimising the risk of accidents is a key part of equipment selection, as is reducing long-term health and safety risks due to poor ergonomics.
Manual handling procedures are the main cause of a lot of these issues, but even tasks assisted by lifting equipment may be associated with risks such as repetitive stress injuries. Using vacuum lifters is an effective way to improve safety and mitigate health risks, but it is also important to ensure that workers are properly trained to handle the equipment correctly.
To fully utilise any lifting equipment, it needs to fit in as seamlessly as possible with the workspace surrounding it. We have different types of equipment to suit your needs, which include both mobile and stationary solutions. Take into consideration the space you have to use, and how you can best utilise the space available. This includes looking at the radius of cranes, height and width limitations, required reach and manoeuvrability. Mobile electric lifting equipment, such as our mobile order pickers and lifting trolleys, do not occupy much space when not in use, but remember, when considering a mobile option, you also need to ensure that there are charging points available, so make sure you choose the right lifting equipment based on your environment.
Traffic patterns and picking processes
Consider the facility’s flow of goods between the point of delivery and storage racks (or corresponding processes).
- What is the volume of goods on average? Some lifting equipment is designed for fast lifting, which will improve productivity when working with a high volume of lighter goods.
- What is the most efficient method and route to transport goods to and from storage?
- Do goods need to be turned or tilted in the lifting process, or gripped from the side? Make sure to select and/or customise a lifter that meets these requirements.
- Is mobility and flexibility important? Mobile vacuum lifters will save time and effort when picking orders from pallet racks. Electric lifting trolleys enable efficient transportation and lifting of goods. What is most important to you?
When and How to Choose Vacuum Lifting Equipment
In many material handling settings, vacuum lifting equipment is superior to the alternatives and provides shorter cycle times as well as higher overall productivity. The health and ergonomic advantages are also significant, as a vacuum lifter allows anyone to effortlessly and safely lift heavy loads. Some of the most typical goods lifted by vacuum powered equipment include:
- Sheet materials – metal, glass, plastic, laminate and even semi-porous wooden sheets weighing up to 500kg, are all easily lifted, rotated and tilted using a sheet lifting tool such as the TAWI Sheet Gripper.
- Drums, kegs and pails – A vacuum lifter can be customised to lift several drums or pails together, handling a total weight of up to 270kg.
- Stone and cement – A vacuum slab lifter makes the otherwise awkward task of lifting stones and slabs effortless.
- Bags – Whether the material is plastic, paper or jute, a vacuum lifter can be customised to handle bags safely.
- Cardboard boxes – The TAWI Multifunctional Lifter can grip boxes of any size from the top and/or from the side. In other words, even open boxes can be lifted with the right tools.
- Food – To lift blocks of dairy products or meat, including unwrapped products, a customised stainless-steel lifter comes prepared to meet strict sanitary requirements.
- Appliances and furniture – A vacuum lifter is ideal for lifting kitchen benchtops, tables, or appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
In short, any type of goods with a surface that enables a strong vacuum grip is well suited for vacuum lifting. However, with the exception of products such as TAWI Mobile Order Picker, vacuum lifters are normally not intended as general-purpose lifting devices. Things to consider when choosing a lifter therefore include the weight and shape of the intended loads, the size of the working area available, length of transportation and not least a vacuum lifter’s suitability compared to the alternatives which might be available.
When and How to Select a Trolley
A portable, battery-powered trolley is highly versatile, robust, and easy to use. Compared to other lifting equipment, lifting trolleys are ideal for lifting and transporting goods without being confined to a single workspace. By interchanging between specialist tools, it allows for effortless lifting and transportation of:
- Rolls – Rolls of plastic, paper, cloth, and other materials are easily lifted using a trolley and a roll lifter that grip rolls either from the core or from the outside.
- Drums – When working only in a single workspace, a vacuum lifter may be the most efficient option for lifting drums and kegs, however a trolley with a drum-lifting tool is more flexible.
- Crates and boxes – A trolley is often the most efficient and hassle-free alternative for transporting crates and boxes to and from production lines.
TAWI Lifting Trolleys can grip, lift and transport loads weighing up to 250kg. When working in spaces with high sanitary requirements, stainless-steel trolleys are ideal, as they are easy to keep clean.
When and How to Select a Crane System
There are unlimited ways to configure a crane system to suit your specific material handling needs. In warehousing and manufacturing settings, various types of overhead bridge cranes and jib cranes are the most common. The cranes are then fitted with vacuum lifters, wire hoists or chain hoists depending on the weight and shape of the intended loads. There are few restrictions on the types of goods that can be lifted using cranes.
- When to select a jib crane: Jib cranes allow for flexible movement within a workspace limited by the length of the arm. For improved reach and flexibility in restricted areas, an articulating jib crane may be the best choice for lifting goods weighing up to 80kg, whereas stainless steel models can easily lift up to 1000kg. Manufacturing lines and delivery points are examples of workspaces where a jib crane may be suitable.
- When to select an overhead bridge crane: With the help of mounting systems like girders and monorails, overhead cranes can be built to cover extensive spaces such as a storage racking systems, or for transporting materials along specific paths, e.g. to and from production lines. The robust design of TAWI overhead bridge cranes allow for safe and ergonomic lifting loads weighing up to 1500kg. By using a telescopic crane, you will also be able to reach outside of the girder system.
Crane systems are custom solutions, built to suit the exact requirements of an individual facility. This means that the most critical part of acquiring a crane system is the planning stage. Later modifications may be necessary, but could also be complex, so it is important to ensure that the crane system is built to meet all of the facility’s current and anticipated future requirements.
When to Choose Gripping Tools
Choosing the right tools for gripping and lifting is essential for safe and accurate lifting. Any TAWI lifter can be fitted with tools adapted for a wide variety of loads. A few examples of this include:
- Bags: To achieve a firm vacuum grip on semi-porous bags, you may need to use comparatively large suction feet and a rubber skirt to maximise the force of the vacuum and strengthen the grip.
- Boxes: Cardboard boxes are typically lifted using one or two rectangularly-shaped suction feet, with their size being adapted to the size of the box. It is also possible to use a set of bellow suction cups. Open boxes are lifted using side-mounted suction feet.
- Tyres: Tyres are securely and easily lifted using synchronised hooks that attach to the inside of the tyres.
- Sheets and furniture: Fixed or flexible spider yokes are commonly used for lifting sheet materials, doors and windows.
- Pallets: Pallets can be lifted with vacuum powered equipment using two or more suction feet, or with a wire hoist equipped with a fork tool.
- Components: To lift auto parts and other industrial components on manufacturing lines, it is often necessary to use customised tools in the form best suited to the load, whether it is hooks, forks, or vacuum suction feet.
Detailed planning is essential to get the best return on your investment in lifting equipment. However, when you make well informed choices, targeted investments tailored to your business will result in measurable productivity and staff health improvements in both the short and long term.
To get a head start in your equipment selection, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at TAWI. We have provided material handling equipment to businesses in a wide range of industries and will help you to accurately pinpoint the most efficient, safe and cost-effective solutions to your lifting needs, meaning you can choose the right lifting equipment for you and your business.
The vacuum lifter is an excellent lifting aid that makes material handling safe, efficient and easy. But to get maximum functionality out of your vacuum lifter, it must be equipped with the correct lifting tool. This enables you to lift your goods in the best possible way, but if you have several different devices, you can handle even more types of goods in your business. But how do you know which lifting tool is right for your products?
Reach out to us anytime and we’ll be happy to help you.
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Please specify what you want to lift with measures and weight, size of working area, and lifting height to get as accurate a quote as possible.
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