How to work smarter (and more efficient) with vacuum lift systems

The proper implementation of vacuum lift equipment in your operations can save you both time and money. This article investigates the benefits of lifting aids in general and vacuum lifters in particular.

How do vacuum lifters work?

Vacuum lifters use vacuum technology to hold and lift various types of goods; everything from flour bags to stone slabs and glass panels. The vacuum lifting technique uses a vacuum pump, connected by an air hose to a lift tube. At the end of the lift tube is a suction head and a suction foot which will grip and hold the load. You will find that suction feet are available in various shapes and sizes, designed for the type of goods you need to lift. The suction foot or suction cups create an air-tight seal between the load and the lifter to guarantee a safe hold of the load during the lifting activity.

A vacuum pump (or ejector pump) creates vacuum between the suction cups and the load. By adjusting the vacuum level through a control handle, the operator can easily alter the lifting height. This type of suction lifting is safe and gentle for both operator and goods. The suction cups hold the load securely without damaging it, and the operator can safely lift heavy goods with no physical strain.

Air-tight seal ensures a secure grip

As mentioned above, vacuum lifters use various designs of suction cups or suction feet depending on the type of load to be lifted. A solid parcel is easily gripped with one or more small suction cups, normally sealed by a rubber gasket. Paper or plastic sacks and other more porous loads normally need a bigger suction foot. For these types of porous loads, the suction foot is often complemented with a rubber skirt to guarantee an air-tight seal.

Sealing is important because the more you can minimize leakage, the stronger the vacuum lifter will be. When lifting porous loads, a higher flow from the vacuum pump counteracts air leakage and ensures a safe hold.

Safe suspension in overhead crane systems

Vacuum lifters are normally suspended from an overhead crane. Depending on the layout of the crane system, this allows the operator to use the lifter within a limited area. An overhead crane system can be designed to allow lifting within a larger or smaller area. For small facilities or where the lifter only needs to be used in a limited workspace, a jib crane is often sufficient and the most cost-efficient alternative for suspending the vacuum lifter.

More flexibility with mobile solutions

Traditionally, vacuum lifters have been suspended in stationary crane systems, allowing the lifters to be used in a limited workspace. In large facilities, several vacuum lifters are often implemented to cover multiple workstations. Different types of overhead cranes or jib cranes are used depending on the level of flexibility needed.

As a result of the growing e-commerce, we now see more and more large-scale warehouses where goods are picked before being distributed all over the globe. These warehouses or logistic centres require very streamlined handling of goods to be cost efficient. A vacuum lifter mounted on a forklift (or any type of LLOP or pallet jack) enables high-speed order picking in these facilities. With the vacuum lifter attached to the forklift, workers can easily move from pallet rack to pallet rack and pick products on pallets with minimal physical effort. This type of vacuum powered order picker will save time and money, minimizing both worker injuries and damaged goods.

Step-by-step guide: how to use a vacuum lifter

Handling a vacuum lifter is easier than you would expect. A brief 5-minute training is more than enough to learn how to lift with vacuum.

  1. Start the vacuum pump.
  2. Make sure that suction cups are tightly placed on the load to be lifted. When you have achieved an air-tight seal between suction cups and load the vacuum pump will start raising the load.
  3. You can now easily lift and lower the load by adjusting the lever on the handle. Lift and shift the load to where you need it, rotate the load if needed to place it in position.
  4. Adjust the lever on the handle to lower the load when positioned.
  5. Finally release the load by angling the suction foot to break the air-tight seal.


Financial benefits of vacuum powered lifting

Vacuum lift systems offer several benefits for both businesses and people. A vacuum lifter will essentially eliminate the weight of any load, making lifting effortless. This means that one single employee can easily lift tons in one shift. And leave their shift without a sore muscle in their body. This tends to give happy employees, but it also saves companies from costly insurance claims and cost of sick leave.

When lifting is effortless anyone can lift. Companies no longer need to depend on one big strong man to do the heavy lifting. Everyone can lift, regardless of their size, strength, age, or gender. This promotes workforce flexibility, diversity, and retention.

In addition to the soft values mentioned above, vacuum assisted lifting has the potential of increasing efficiency and productivity. The use of lifting aids enables workers to lift more in less time, reducing downtime when workers need to rest between lifts, or downtime due to injury caused by repetitive lifting.


Vacuum lifter price and installation

The price of a vacuum lift systems varies depending on what the system should lift, and the layout of the work-area. Contact TAWI to get a quotation on a vacuum lift system suitable for your needs.

Before investing in a vacuum lift system, it is wise to test the equipment on the actual loads to be lifted. We also recommend an assessment of the physical layout of the facilities where the equipment will be installed. This helps ensure that the lift system will meet your needs and requirements. TAWI will guide you through the process to guarantee safe use of the equipment in your facilities. Installation of TAWI lifters is always carried out by TAWI technicians.

Learn more about: Vacuum lifters | Vacuum order pickers | Crane systems

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