27. January 2020 • FIPA in practice

Tube lifter simplifies internal logistics

Fast and ergonomic instead of slow and exhausting: With the FIPALIFT tube lifter, heavy cartons of different dimensions can be easily palletised. A complete system for aquatherm GmbH shows how existing installations can be reused.

Aquatherm GmbH (https://www.aquatherm.de/) from Attendorn, Germany, is the world's leading manufacturer of innovative plastic pipe systems made of polypropylene for portable water applications, heating systems, fire sprinkler systems, air-conditioning and refrigeration technology as well as surface heating and cooling systems. The product range of the family-owned business, which employs approx. 600 people worldwide, comprises more than 17,000 articles. Customers include residential and commercial construction companies, architects, planners and fabricators. Ensuring that the entire range is of the very best quality is the company’s top priority: 100 % made in Germany. Thanks to optimised logistics, this family business offers fast delivery and can thus guarantee the worldwide availability of its products.

The task: Move shipping cartons quickly and ergonomically

In shipping, the plastic fittings are packed in cartons of various sizes. Employees pick the packed and sealed cartons up from the roller conveyor and stack them on pallet boxes. One carton can weigh up to 30 kg. Two carton sizes are common for shipping: 660 x 220 mm and 571 x 370 mm.

In order to optimise handling, a new system was required that could be used flexibly to handle both carton sizes. But there were some obstacles to overcome. The cartons are sealed in various ways, and can also warp due to their heavy weight. The solution should relieve the strain on employees and improve occupational safety. It was possible to reuse the overhead crane from the existing installation.

The solution: A complete system with tube lifter FIPALIFT Smart

FIPA offered a complete system including installation and commissioning on site. The range included a FIPALIFT Smart tube lifter with an extended operating unit, a traverse and a dry-running vacuum pump. By installing the vacuum pump directly under the ceiling, it was possible to minimise noise levels and reduce the amount of tubing required.

It was also possible to install the FIPALIFT Smart on the existing overhead crane system. A traverse with four oval bellows vacuum cups was attached to the lower end of the tube lifter to accommodate the cartons.

Assembly manager Steffen Dicke is very satisfied with the complete system, emphasising that “the FIPA solution improves ergonomics and is very easy to use. Our employees can now pick heavy packages of different sizes up from the roller conveyor quickly and easily, move them to the pallet and place them there safely."

David Mories-Lorenzo, responsible for Purchasing, praises FIPA for its comprehensive range of solutions for reliable workpiece handling using vacuum, gripper and lifting technology: "We asked FIPA for a complete system because we appreciate the company's competence, reliability and high level of product quality. FIPA air nippers have been proving their worth in our production processes for a long time now. In the injection molding machines, they cut off thick sprues of more than 10 mm in diameter every day. FIPA will certainly remain our first choice for our next automation project."