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Ergonomic Semi-Automated Lifting Systems

In today's manufacturing world, safety improvements and efficiency gains are key to staying competitive. Dramatic progress in both semi-automated and fully-automated solutions in ergonomic lifting systems is driving growth at Magswitch Lifting Solutions. Stephen Meinhardt heads the lifting systems business unit at Magswitch Technology and is observing that ergonomics is playing a significant role driving the need for safer and faster material handling in the manufacturing world. For some businesses, the jump to fully automated systems does not make sense due to capital costs or low return on investment. Forward thinking businesses are now seeing the value in investing in semi-automated equipment. This often fits more easily with existing workforce skill sets and is a less threatening step to automated processes.

Identifying the Problem

Buyer's Products, based out of Mentor, OH, had recently begun looking at ways to improve productivity and worker safety on their press brake line for snow plows. Picking the snow plow from the stack and loading them into the press brake was a slow process, relatively complex and a high risk activity. The goal was to reduce the risk of injury and increase throughput in the press load and unload procedure. The outcome needed to address both issues and to introduce a semi-automated user friendly process. By doing so, quality, efficiency and safety would be improved. One of the challenges was how were the thin gauge snow plows going to be de-stacked from the delivery pallet. A fail-safe magnet solution was preferred over vacuum systems. "This is where Magswitch has the advantage with our patented shallow field technology that delivers greater holding force on thin material and allowed for just one plough to be pulled at a time," said Meinhardt.

Development Process

"Understanding the work flow process is crucial to developing a solution. Collaborating with the customer for us is what makes these projects enjoyable and produces a product that we can be proud of. This starts with design and ends with implementation," continued Meinhardt. The first order of business with all of Magswitch's projects is to make a site visit to see the process firsthand. Ben Walters, Regional Sales Manager, made several trips to Buyer's Products to meet with the team, gather information and discuss the current challenges that they faced. This was followed up with multiple design reviews with Magswitch's engineering team where ideas and concepts were shared and collaborated. "Our main objective was firstly to engage with existing work team. They needed to own the outcome if it was to be successful," said a company spokesperson. The solution needed to present improved safety, increase efficiency and better operator ergonomics.

The Verdict

The final result was a lifting frame that utilized Magswitch's shallow field patented technology to load and unload the snow plows safely and effectively into the press brake. Importantly, the solution was supported by the floor team and achieved management's goals for safety and efficiency.

Speaking to key personnel at Buyer's Products provided a clear picture into the results that made this project a success. "Conclusion is that we are very happy with the lifting device. Once we had some practice and discovered the easiest way to hook the system up, we have seen significant efficiency gains. It has also proven to be much less strenuous for the operators to complete a complete run of parts. It is also apparent that we increased consistency in our bending since we were able to remove much of the human influence and can raise the plow skin in a more fluid motion," said Evan Lumby, Continuous Improvement Engineer for Buyer's Products.

"At Magswitch, our focus is to design and engineer lifting solutions that improve product quality, are more efficient and most importantly, improve safety," said Meinhardt. "We are not just about selling a product, but rather creating a one on one relationship with our customer and understanding their specific needs. Today's solutions are tomorrow's customers."

For more information contact:

Magswitch Technology, Inc.

1355 Horizon Ave.

Lafayette, CO 80026


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