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Millsom makes material handling look easy

Handling goods in the pharmaceutical industry is subject to a large number of requirements.

The industry is characterized by national and international regulations resulting in high
standards in the areas of quality as well as process and product safety.

These do not only affect the entire production process but are also employed in pharma logistics.

This means that for storage and transport processes, companies do not only have to
observe various environment requirements, as in the case of production under clean room conditions or handling of hazardous goods, but also labor law regulations. The following case study shows how companies can meet such requirements using vacuum tube lifters with replaceable suction pads.

For picking packaged goods, the company Lilly Deutschland GmbH, based in Giessen
(Germany) and a subsidiary of the international pharmaceuticals manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company, relies on a material flow solution that also meets the work regulations of the American parent company.

During implementation, technical as well as health-related and economical aspects were
taken into account.

Given that the use of lifting aids for handling goods heavier than 10kg is mandatory according to American labor law, the goods were first divided into weight classes of up to 10kg and over 10kg.

The group also prescribes this for Lilly, the German subsidiary. In Lilly’s logistics center,
sacks and cardboard boxes filled with animal medicine or feed additives that weigh significantly more than 10kg are picked every day. While cardboard boxes weigh 14kg at most, sacks can be as heavy as 25kg. Therefore, the responsible managers looked for a material flow solution that would cover the handling of both types of workpiece. At the same time, they wanted to deal with growing cost pressure in the industry.

After a detailed analysis of the company’s needs, J. Schmalz GmbH (represented by
Millsom Materials handling in Australia and NZ) was successful, prevailing over several
competitors.

The vacuum specialist succeeded in combining the necessary flexibility with the desired
efficiency in one handling system. The material flow solution for Lilly consists of a JumboFlex 35 vacuum tube lifter designed for loads of up to 35kg.

The standard version of the tube lifter is already equipped with a quick-change adapter
for taking up different suction pads. The system is completed by a suction pad for handling sacks and one for cardboard boxes, as well as crane system. The vacuum is generated by a dry-running pump with a suction capacity of 40 m³/h that provides a vacuum of -600 mbar.

While cardboard boxes are piled directly on a palette, sacks must be packed in an
additional cardboard box before palletizing. In order to meet both handling tasks, the vacuum tube lifter is attached to an easily moving crane system with a large working area 11m long and 5.5m wide.

The compact design of the crane system ensures that it can be used together with the
vacuum tube lifter despite low room height without impairing the tube lifter’s lifting
capacity of 1,600 mm.

The JumboFlex is easily operated with its ergonomic handle for one-finger control and
enables the user to control the up and down movement as well as the lifting and lowering speed at all working heights. In addition to that, you can use the handle to adjust the suspension height of the Jumbo Flex, so that the tube lifter can be adapted to the user’s individual requirements.

This ensures a precise handling of cardboard boxes and sacks at Lilly’s. The change from the sack gripper to the double suction pad for taking up the cardboard boxes and vice versa takes just a few seconds and no tools, which reduces unproductive changeover times to a minimum. The sack gripper is 255mm long and 175mm wide and equipped with a flexible seal.

The material used offers high elasticity and a good thermic and chemical resistance. The double suction pad for the cardboard boxes consists of two flat suction pads of the
size 140 x 70 mm, which are mounted on a 250-mm beam. Both suction pads can be
swivelled by 90° and rotated without limits, which allows picking up from the side and
flexible positioning in large containers or on palettes.

At Lilly’s, this individual material flow solution made up of standard components met with great satisfaction.

Regardless of the comparatively small investment, the requirements in terms of productivity and flexibility were fully met. The system runs for one shift and is operated
by one person. The ergonomic design of the workplace now makes the picking of packaged goods significantly more comfortable. Most importantly, the system prevents fatigue and physical overstrain.

This makes the vacuum tube lifter a valuable investment for both employees and employers.

Millsom Materials Handling
Ph: 1800 99 22 11
www.millsom.com.au