WALTER Medien: Ergonomic Vacuum Handling of Calendars

Every year, WALTER Medien GmbH produces several million calendars for customers across the globe. Sorting the cardboard boxes containing the goods and transferring them to pallets by hand was extremely hard work for the company’s employees. Luckily, a solution was found in the form of lifting devices from the vacuum specialist Schmalz: The company installed several tube lifters and column-mounted jib cranes in WALTER’s new facility, thereby helping to create more pleasant and ergonomic working conditions.

Once Brigitte Frank has packed the calendars into cardboard boxes, she transfers the boxes to a pallet using the vacuum Tube Lifter JumboFlex.
Brigitte Frank deposits the boxes on a pallet while guiding the workpiece with her left hand.
Brigitte Frank, Frank Deißer and Irene Schiebel (from left) are delighted with the vacuum tube lifters from Schmalz.
In the dispatch area, Edda Nemenz uses a JumboErgo 65 to sort the cardboard boxes by zip code.
Schmalz has installed a total of four vacuum lifters with pillar cranes at the new facility of WALTER Medien.
Finished calendars are packed into cardboard boxes and shipped.

From the initial idea to the shipment of the finished product to the customer: WALTER Medien GmbH, which is based in the town of Brackenheim near Heilbronn, Germany is a real full-service printing company. Since its foundation in 1949, the family business has developed into a modern communication and media service provider with a 135-strong workforce. While WALTER prints individual brochures and catalogs, and also publishes local newspapers and official journals, it mainly specializes in the production of calendars. The extensive publishing program, ranging from slim calendars to large-format wall calendars, accounts for around half of the company’s turnover.

New Facility Meets High Ecological and Social Standards

In 2016, WALTER constructed a new hall in order to unify the two main areas of calendar processing and logistics under one roof and thereby minimize transport distances. A tour of the factory leaves no doubt as to the company’s unwavering focus on sustainability. “We use evaporative cooling here, rather than an energy-guzzling air-conditioning system, and we have installed our own photovoltaic system,” explains technical operations manager Frank Deißer. As well as focusing on ecological matters, WALTER also attributes great importance to the working conditions of its employees. After all, many of them have been with the company for a long time and are thus part of the WALTER family.

One such person is 65-year-old Brigitte Frank, who worked at WALTER for 26 years. She is now retired, but still likes to help out at “her” company during the holidays. Her job is to pack the cut and glued calendars into cardboard boxes in customer-specific quantities, seal the boxes shut and then place them onto pallets for shipment. “We used to do this work entirely by hand,” she remembers. Today, things are quite different: Brigitte Frank and her colleagues now operate two column-mounted jib cranes, each equipped with a vacuum tube lifter of the type JumboFlex 35. The system was installed in the new WALTER Medien facility by the vacuum specialist Schmalz.

Easier Lifting with Vacuum

“One of our boxes can weigh between 5 and 15 kilograms,” explains operations manager Deißer. “A single employee will lift around 120 of these per hour which, over time, presents a great physical strain.” The company therefore decided to relieve its staff of this laborious and monotonous activity. When constructing the new hall, WALTER installed cranes and lifting devices at different points inside the facility. One such device is the tube lifter JumboFlex 35: It is designed for frequent and rapid lifting and handling of workpieces weighing up to 35 kilograms. The cardboard boxes are gripped by a double suction cup, which is operated using a vacuum. To ensure the necessary freedom of movement, the tube lifter is mounted on a responsive column-mounted jib crane with a lift capacity of 85 kilograms. The blower with silencer box for the vacuum generation is located directly on the crane system.

Brigitte Frank is delighted with the lifting aid and impressed by its simple operation: “Using the control handle, I can lift, move and set down the boxes with just one hand – without any physical effort.” This ensures fatigue-free working without placing excessive strain on the back and joints. Moreover, working with the new tube lifter is a much quicker process, leaving her and her colleagues more time for other tasks. “Now that we no longer have to move the boxes by hand, I am going home much less tired than before,” states Frank.

Targeted Movement of Different Goods

In her role in WALTER’s shipping department, where she ensures reliable dispatch of the calendars to the company’s customers, Edda Nemenz also receives technical support in the form of a Schmalz solution: She operates a tube lifter JumboErgo 65, which is designed for heavier loads up to 65 kilograms and is operated with two hands. The twist grip functions like a motorcycle gas grip, which enables smooth and accurate handling of workpieces of varying sizes. The JumboErgo 65 is also equipped with a double suction cup and assists Edda Nemenz in sorting the boxes of calendars by zip code. “The Jumbo makes light work of this task – and it’s more fun as well,” states a clearly delighted Nemenz.

Improved Working Conditions and Additional Capacities

Yet this collaboration with Schmalz is by no means new territory for WALTER Medien, explains Frank Deißer: “We already used lifting devices in our old hall. We purchased the first one in 1990 – and it still works perfectly today. We were thus well aware of the high quality levels delivered by Schmalz.” And the managers at WALTER certainly have no regrets: “The feedback from our employees is extremely positive,” reports Deißer. “The tube lifters ensure pleasant and ergonomic working conditions, and we have seen a significant decline in strain-induced absences.” Moreover, the cardboard boxes can be sorted and prepared for dispatch much more quickly with the new lifting devices: “This provides us with greater capacities during peak periods and staff have more time for other tasks when things are quieter.” The operations manager is also delighted with the service and support received from Schmalz: “We are very well looked after – with everything from the selection of the right product to the start of operations and subsequent maintenance.” It is all the more likely, therefore, that WALTER’s new lifting devices will not be their last.

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