When it comes to vacuum lifting equipment, it's all about the three 'E's — efficiency, effectiveness and ergonomics.
Vacuum lifting systems are suitable for a wide range of materials handling applications. Whether it is cardboard boxes, sheet metal, glass, plastic sheets, drums, laminated boards or bench tops, if the work piece weighs less than 2000kg — then there is a vacuum lifter that can do the job.
But there is more to vacuum lifting equipment than versatility. According to Kevin Smith, General Manager of vacuum lifting experts, Millsom Materials Handling, the real advantages of installing a vacuum lifting solution are the efficiency and effectiveness gains it can deliver, as well as ergonomic benefits.
"The primary objectives of vacuum lifting technology are improving OH&S and making the most efficient use of the manpower you have," Smith told IndustrySearch.
For items which are heavy or awkward to handle and would normally need to be manually handled by more than one person — vacuum lifters eliminate this requirement, according to Smith.
"With vacuum lifting technology, you effectively require only one person for the task: the person operating the vacuum lifter," he explained.
"From an OH&S management perspective, you don't want your workers getting injured or fatigued. You want your staff to remain as sharp as possible throughout the day and you may not always have the staff to be able to rotate them through to a different area.
"With vacuum lifting equipment, you're freeing up workers for other tasks."
"Through this you're improving productivity within your workplace, since the worker isn't going to get tired by the task of continuous heavy lifting, or worse still — injuring themselves in the process."
There are also key financial benefits to be had for companies who decide to invest in such equipment, Smith said.
According to Safe Work Australia, both musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries — especially pertaining to the back — remain at the top of the list as the most common workers' compensation claims.
With the average payout figure for a single worker hovering around $45,000, investing in vacuum lifting equipment can reap some serious fiscal benefits for any workplace and their materials handling operations. Not to mention the possible lost production due to lost staff.
"That figure doesn't include how much WorkCover premiums can go up by as a result of claims," Smith said.
"Potentially, you could buy multiple vacuum lifters for the same price as one claim. The savings are significant."
There is a diversity of vacuum lifting technology available for industry's materials handling requirements.
"Vacuum lifting equipment is suitable for loading CNC machines, laser cutting machines, water jet machines, punching machines, that is for sheet metal, steel plates, glass, timber, laminated and porous timber boards, to name but a few," Smith said.
"They can have a maximum operating capacity of 2000kgs.
"There are also machines available which are capable of handling items with uneven surfaces such as bulk bags, sacks, and checker-plate."
"All vacuum lifters supplied by Millsoms meet or exceed the Australian Standards for what is required from a safety point of view. They all have inbuilt safety features which reduce the risk of accidents happening."
In the end, using vacuum lifting technology is in consideration of the worker's wellbeing.
"The primary thing to remember about using vacuum handling equipment is you're replacing manual labour, not replacing other equipment," Smith concluded.