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Industry: Snowblower Manufacturer in Haw River, North Carolina

Challenge: Refit assembly line to accommodate additional product line for safe end-of-line palletization

Solution: Vacuum lift system with custom end tooling, aluminum jib crane and a free-standing bridge crane

Product: Schmalz jib crane and vacuum lift system, Gorbel free-standing bridge-crane


Proving Safety & Efficiency With Vacuum Lifting Device – Haw River NC Case Study

In-Factory Safety Simulation

A leading manufacturer of lawn and snow equipment in Haw River, North Carolina was adding a new product type with new box dimensions to their assembly line.  This required optimizing the assembly line layout and adding new, more efficient palletizing equipment.

Challenge – New Product Demands Assembly Line Update

There were several challenges that set this job apart:

  1. The newer product type had to be palletized with six boxes to a pallet that would stack about 8′ high. This would present issues at the end of the line due to the size and weight of the box.
  2.  Time was another major factor. The conveyor solution had to be performed during Christmas shut-down, as it would be a complex process.
  3. The original solution proposed wasn’t going to work because it presented a huge safety issue.

Automation & Material Handling Specialist Ivar Lonon from Advanced Equipment Company was brought in to find a safer, more efficient solution.

Solution – Custom Designed Vacuum Lift System For Palletizing

“They originally wanted to tear out all of the existing conveyor, then add in scissor lifts and extra platforms. It would’ve been a nightmare of a project for them, especially over a holiday shutdown,” said Lonon. “So, after reviewing the initial design, I offered an alternate solution to palletize the new units — the vacuum lift system. My client liked the idea, but was concerned about safety issues.”

The vacuum lifter was a new type of equipment for this manufacturer. Lonon had to prove the reliability and safety of the Schmalz vacuum system. So, Lonon brought his client’s safety team directly to the Schmalz North American Headquarters for a live in-person demonstration.

Proof In Performance Factory Testing

“We had to prove that we could safely pick up their box, keep it from getting knocked loose, safely lift and stack heavy boxes, and show them what happens with power loss. Schmalz set it up, and did a live demo with their packaged product,” said Lonon.

The manufacturer engineer stated, “While at Schmalz, our safety team took turns testing the vacuum lift. Lifting and power failure simulations performed very well. That’s all we needed to see in order to put confidence in this solution.”

They moved forward with Lonon’s complete solution and replaced the old overhead equipment with the following:

  1. Gorbel free-standing bridge crane and air hoist provided the solid foundation for the lifting of heavier products.  Also increased organization with a place to hang air tools for assembling the final packaging.
  2. 16-Ft span Schmalz jib crane with a custom end tool and vacuum lift device. Allowed for ergonomic and safe lifting, boxing and palletizing of the new line of product.

Thank goodness, no shut-down was required. The entire demolition and installation happened after regular business hours and over a short weekend.  Lonon’s client operation schedule was further accomodated by applying tweaks and adjustments over the following weeks with AEC’s customary after-sales care and support.

“There hasn’t been any safety issues and the vacuum lift device continues to work well,” said the staff engineer  “The vacuum lifter is in use 8 hours a day. We have about six operators trained in now and the more they use it, the more they like it, and productivity continues to improve.”

Success – Increased Efficiency, Increased Safety & Fast Installation

End-of-line palletizing was faster, safer and more effective for the assembly line operators. Thanks to the vacuum lift assist, one operator can pick up and stack up to 600 lb large boxes with practically zero exertion -and stack them up to 8 ft. high – with no addtional assistance.

“It’s not often you get to win the trifecta in a project,” said Lonon. “But this solution offered cost savings in equipment, installation labor, reduced customer down time, and offered a safer and more ergonomic way to palletize the boxes.”

Ivar Lonon suggested a solution that was, at first, totally off of the client’s radar.

After an in-person demonstration, a quick installation and a few follow-up visits to make final adjustments, this major snow blower manufacturer is saving time, money and enjoying additional benefits they weren’t even looking for.

Exactly what you can expect from the experts at Advanced Equipment Company.

Ivar Lonon is a Conveyor & Material Handling Specialist at Advanced Equipment Company. He is responsible for system sales and turnkey integration of material handling systems with over 30 years of experience in systems engineering, project management and systems integration.


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Since 1960, Advanced Equipment Company has been providing our services to the Carolinas and throughout the United States.

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