Vacuum tube lifter from Schmalz: Ergonomics and efficiency go hand in hand

Gebr. Kemper GmbH + Co. KG install lifting technology from J. Schmalz GmbH in their new assembly and logistics hall. Vacuum tube lifters of the type JumboSprint 85, in combination with aluminum traveling cranes, optimize the handling of cardboard boxes and crates. This significantly increases process reliability and improves ergonomics at the workplace.

Kemper installs ergonomically designed workplaces in its new plant. There is a total of 14 vacuum tube lifters, several aluminum overhead crane systems as well as a column-mounted jib crane from Schmalz in use.
The tube lifters are used along the material flow at all important points – from Goods Receipt, Assembly and Quality Assurance to the Packaging and Dispatch areas.
For the crates, the gripper moves the container and clamps it with special clips. The installed automatic handles allow fast, two-way clamping and releasing without additional grippers.
The workpieces are raised by pulling up on the handle and lowered again by pressing down.
A double gripper is used for the cardboard boxes. It is easy to use and handles the cardboard boxes gently and safely.

“High quality is our standard,” reads Kemper's motto, a family company with its headquarters in Olpe. In 1864, the city councilor Johann-Anton Kemper founded the hinge factory “Gebrüder Kemper” (Kemper Bros.) with his brother Eduard. Kemper has grown organically over the course of its 150-year history. Today the company employs around 850 employees worldwide, achieving annual sales of more than €280 million and manufacturing its quality products on over 42,000 square meters of space. Kemper delivers its global customers with high-quality plumbing fittings for drinking water installations, sophisticated bronze products as well as rolled belts made from copper and copper alloys.

Kemper fittings and systems for protecting drinking water enjoy an outstanding reputation in building technology – specialist wholesalers, plumbing processors and building contractors for large buildings place their trust in these high-quality components. In order to keep up with the increasing demand, the company management decided to build a new plant on the its grounds. A logistics center is integrated into the building, which was recently moved into, and has a total area of 12,300 square meters. 36,000 storage spaces for small parts containers with the dimensions 600 x 400 x 270 mm and 1,400 grid box spaces are available there.

In addition to material flow efficiency and process optimization, another aspect was right at the top of the agenda when designing and planning the new building: ergonomically designed workplaces. “We are dealing with demographic change and have also created suitable conditions for older employees,” Frank Leistritz, plant manager and authorized representative for Kemper, stated. The company has adopted new approaches with this project. “Ergonomics is very important to us. That's why we have designed innovative workplaces for Logistics and Assembly, jointly with the specialists SSI Schäfer and Asstec,” he said. They have a round design and are height-adjustable. This makes the various containers easy for employees to access.

Kemper implemented the intra-logistic for the new plant jointly with the warehousing technology specialist SSI Schäfer. Previously, employees had to transport containers, that were often very heavy, by hand. The plant management sought suitable lifting aids to make the work easier on the body and to enable fast handling of the crates and cardboard boxes with the fittings. The components can weigh up to 50 kilograms per container. At this stage, SSI gave a suggestion: They recommended that the building contractor should contact the vacuum specialist J. Schmalz GmbH in Glatten. Kemper researched online, gathered background information, and then contacted Schmalz. Soon after, the experts from the Black Forest were on site, analyzed the project along with requirements and provided an in-depth consultation. “We quickly recognized that Schmalz has a high degree of expertise and were convinced that the products fit our needs,” Leistritz stated.

The Schmalz staff recommended Kemper use JumboSprint 85 vacuum tube lifters as well as aluminum traveling cranes. The JumboSprint is ideally suited for the frequent and rapid handling of goods up to a weight of 85 kilograms. It has a rotating bow-shaped operator handle for simple and intuitive operation: The workpieces are raised by pulling up on the handle and lowered again by pressing down. The handle is ergonomically shaped, which makes efficient handling of loads easier and protects employees' health.

Kemper predominantly uses small load carriers in crate form for Assembly and cardboard boxes for the Packaging/Shipping area. That's why Schmalz supplied two different gripping systems for the JumboSprint. A box gripper transports the small load carriers. For this, the gripper moves the container and clamps it with special clips. The installed automatic handles allow fast, two-way clamping and releasing without additional grippers. Using a vacuum, the crates are then precisely and safely lifted and lowered. A double gripper is used for the cardboard boxes. These are easy to use and handle the cardboard boxes very gently and safely. At Kemper, small load carriers and cardboard boxes are each used 50 per cent. Employees switch the grippers depending on requirements. This can be easily done using a quick-change adapter. The grippers can be changed in just a few steps; the tube lifter is then ready to use again immediately.

During the Kemper project, Schmalz proved its high degree of system expertise. In order to fulfill the requirements for efficient processes, the vacuum specialist supplied additional aluminum crane systems that fit the tube lifters. Their strong point is their low-friction operation, which ensures good ergonomics and allows effortless, low-noise movement of loads. The favorable weight-load ration ensures effortless handling of workpieces. High-quality and wear-resistant components ensure a high level of reliability. The crane solutions have a modular design and therefore could be well integrated in the assembly and logistics processes.

Schmalz supplied a total of 14 JumboSprint 85 vacuum tube lifters, several aluminum overhead crane systems as well as a column-mounted jib crane. The mounting and start of operations by the Schmalz technicians went smoothly and quickly. The tube lifters are used along the material flow at all important points – from Goods Receipt, Assembly and Quality Assurance to the Packaging and Dispatch areas. Kemper installed four additional devices of the type JumboFlex 35 there. One of its features is its one-hand operation and it takes the strain off employees by fast handling of light cardboard up to a weight of 35 kilograms.

The speed of the tube lifters was an important argument for Kemper, in order to be able to manage the high turnover. For Frank Leistritz, the solution completely fulfilled expectations. “The initial experiences have been very positive. We made the right decision,” he said. Employees welcomed the vacuum tube lifters, thanks to their intuitive and comfortable operation. The mounting and logistics specialist is also very satisfied with the aluminum traveling cranes. “With these we can easily reach our work islands and cope with large distances.” Ergonomic advantages result from the cranes' low amount of moving parts. “Responsiveness was very important for us, as this relieves our employees. This particularly applies when high turnover rates are demanded,” Leistritz stated.

The plant manager assessed the collaboration in the individual project stages as exemplary. The Schmalz employees' high degree of expertise impressed him right from the consultation stage. “We had qualified contact people at all project levels, who answered technical queries quickly.” The decision to go with Schmalz has been worth it. “The solutions make the workplaces in our new hall significantly more ergonomic and efficient,” he said, delighted.

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