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Material Handling

Heavy handling

By Stephen Meinhardt, Director of Sales-Heavy Lifting Solutions, Magswitch

Above: Magswitch’s Telescoping Lifting System adjusts to plate length. The below shows 10 ft. to 40 ft., 24,000-lb. lifting capacity.

One fabricator decides to upgrade its plate moving methods away from cumbersome hooks and chains

October 2021 - It takes careful timing and skill to maneuver steel plate ranging in size from 10 ft. to 70 ft. long. A process of hooks and chains to handle plate created a standing bottleneck for one fabricator specializing in everything from manufacturing boilers to structural steel building components. “We found we were creating the bottleneck when offloading the supply truck, as well as loading and unloading the cutting table,” says Zach Mendenhall, Vancouver facility manager at Greenbery Industrial. Delays as well as worker safety concerns led the manufacturer to Magswitch.

After speaking to Magswitch, Greenbery found that a fail-safe system would be capable of lifting the range of 3/16-in. up to 2-in.-thick plate. “We explored electromagnets and understood there was a concern with dropping the plate when a power failure occurs,” Mendenhall says. “We also looked at vacuum systems but the longevity—or lack of—and maintenance that comes with it was not appealing.”

Magswitch Technologies Group is headquartered in Lafayette, Colorado, with facilities in Michigan as well as Germany, Australia, South Korea and China. The material handling manufacturer also works with distributors worldwide. With 41 issued patents and numerous more pending, Magswitch has evolved from a single innovation in switchable magnets to a raft of technologies that cover many areas of gripping technology across many industry sectors. These technologies enable magnets to create a more efficient, safer and more connected world.

FFJ 1021 material image1

The Cordless Electric System lifts plate from 4 ft. by 8 ft. up to 10 ft. by 20 ft.

New technology

Magswitch has developed and commercialized a range of magnetic grippers that are based on new proprietary technology and incorporate Industry 4.0 technology for automation. These grippers reduce overhead costs and deliver faster throughput with a material handling system that is virtually maintenance-free. These green tools reduce energy consumption by up to 90 percent. One major European OEM has achieved savings of up to 40 percent on robot cells designed around the technology. In 2022, Magswitch plans to enter the collaborative robot space with a similar disruptive product line.

Customer demand led Magswitch to launch a Heavy Lifting Solutions (HLS) division that offers a full line of life systems for handling plate, pipe, I-beam and more. HLS was established to offer safe and efficient solutions to small and large fabricators, and alternative energy manufacturers, as well as military, shipyard and rolling stock applications. Magswitch has worked with its network of customers to provide complementary material handling products that integrate manual, pneumatic and patented electric actuated tools on certified frames. Customers can turn to Magswitch as a one-stop-shop solution for heavy sheet, pipes, tubes, I-beams as reliably as for a 300-amp ground clamp or simple jig fixture.

HLS’s standard product line is designed for small to large plate lift systems reaching up to 70 ft. by 10 ft. Cordless electric models offer single magnets, up to four tons in a single magnet unit; systems are scalable based on customer requirements; and customers can choose from selective destack burn tables. Custom products are designed by Magswitch’s engineering team.

HLS engineers work closely with customers to spec out the best system using finite analysis software systems to build and test units before production to ensure proper ASME lifting standards and magnetic strength testing, while ensuring customer satisfaction. HLS provides RIO reporting, on-site installation, in-field training, recertification and repairs for customers.

FFJ 1021 material image2

Magswitch I-beam and Bundle Lift Systems.

Fail-safe

Unlike electromagnets, which collapse/turn off in the event of a power outage, Magswitch’s fail-safe technology does not rely on electricity to maintain suction. Equally important is the capability of Magswitch technology to safely hold thin material. Older technology tends to struggle with “destacking” of thin material.

Traditional destacking requires the use of a pry bar or by kicking the bottom plate to get it to drop. As a result, workers can be injured. Manually destacking plates also takes a lot of time. In a high production facility, every second counts and every second that is wasted is costing businesses money.

Since installing its Magswitch equipment, Greenbery immediately experienced an improvement in production time and flow. “Loading and offloading our 10 ft. by 40 ft. by 2 in. plate with hooks and chains was very time consuming,” says Mendenhall. “Using the new Magswitch system, we saw upwards of 75 percent reduction in loaded & unloading time(s) and a ROI of less than 18 months. It was a no brainer to [invest] in our material handling process.”  FFJ

Sources

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