“Manual handling” – this unwieldy pair of terms conceals activities that often lead to physical exhaustion and back pain in logistics, assembly, crafts and industrial manufacturing. What is meant is any transporting or supporting a load by human power: lifting, setting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving boxes, crates or components. Manual handling of loads is one of the main causes of accidents reported by companies and poses risks to occupational safety and employee health. On the one hand, for example, falling workpieces can cause cuts or even broken bones; on the other hand, repeated lifting and carrying overstrains the musculoskeletal system. Even with smaller loads, the weights moved quickly up to several tons per day. In the long run, this results in pain in the spine or back muscles.

A healthy body is not only in the interest of the employees: The aggravated shortage of skilled workers and the higher average age of the working population increase the pressure on entrepreneurs in many industries to make the working conditions in their companies fundamentally more ergonomic. This is precisely where J. Schmalz GmbH comes in: The Black Forest vacuum specialist has made it its business to take the burden off the shoulders literally – and the back – of employers and employees alike. To this end, it has several lifting aids and crane systems in its portfolio that enable an ergonomic working posture and generate economic added value simultaneously.

Vacuum replaces muscle power

The principle is as logical as it is effective: Any weight that a person does not have to carry under their power is easy on the spine and back muscles, thus preventing both accidents and injuries. Schmalz, therefore, shifts typical work movements to its crane, chain hoist and vacuum lifter systems. With the tube lifters of the Jumbo series, a single person moves, among other things, cartons, sacks, barrels, buckets and canisters weighing up to 300 kilograms effortlessly, quickly and precisely – and in some cases with just one hand. Different Jumbo variants cover other areas of application – the principle of lifting with a vacuum is common to all. JumboFlex, JumboErgo and JumboSprint, as well as JumboFlex High-Stack and Jumbo Low-Stack, differ in the form and function of their operating elements and grippers and are each designed for specific applications. This makes the vacuum tube lifter an ideal helper for machine loading, shipping and picking areas, and many other lifting tasks; it also reduces handling times and thus increases productivity in numerous industries.

Schmalz also provides suitable systems for applications beyond the 300-kilogram mark. The vacuum lifting device VacuMaster, for example, is an absolute powerhouse: Whether metal sheets, wooden or plastic panels, windows or glass panes – the VacuMaster variants can handle even large, flat and heavy loads. Where many helping hands are required, the VacuMaster enables health-conscious workpiece handling by just one operator. A vacuum generator generates the force of suction needed and transfers it to the workpiece using suction plates. The maximum load capacity of the series ranges from 100 to 2,000 kilograms. Loading and unloading CNC machines and transporting goods over long distances are just two typical applications for the VacuMaster. With the ergonomic operator handle, the user maintains the required safety distance from the object picked up and transported it to its destination safely, gently and without exerting force. Unlike the Jumbo, the VacuMaster merely holds the workpieces. A chain hoist implements the lifting movement.

Schmalz mounts both load carriers on lightweight cranes. Whether as a slewing crane or crane system – the modular system facilitates individual integration into almost any hall layout. The dimensions of the crane system define the working area. Crane runways up to 50 meters long, for example, span entire production lines or transport routes. The slewing cranes, on the other hand, allow applications in a radius of up to eight meters. Thanks to the aluminium profiles and the excellent smooth-running properties of the load carriers, users work quickly and accurately as well as ergonomically and without fatigue.

The lifter comes to the load

If the lifting challenges are distributed over several changing operating locations in the plant, Schmalz brings the tube lifter to the load without further ado. The mobile JumboFlex Picker consists of a basic module, a height-adjustable column and an articulated arm crane. This means it always has the control technology, the vacuum generator and the battery required. It achieves a gripping height of up to 1,800 millimetres and a lateral reach of up to 1,500 millimetres. A conventional industrial truck is needed to transport it to its destination. The JumboFlex Picker is ideal for mobile order picking or in-house goods distribution.

Two promises from the prefix remain open: flexibility and safety. Schmalz supplies the Jumbo with a quick-change adapter on request. Using it, gripping tools for plastic bags, transport boxes or metal plates are quickly exchanged, and the lifting aid is ready for a new task. The suction plates of the VacuMaster can be moved along the traverse system and are thus quickly adapted to different workpiece formats. The Schmalz portfolio consistently fulfils relevant safety factors and regulations. Various warning and protection systems, as well as a well-thought-out operating concept to prevent operational errors, safeguard the work – even in the event of a power failure.

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