The trend to big-sized glass, complex glass structures and coatings as well as the automation of production processes have significant impacts on the in-plant transport.
The development of specific characteristics of special glasses through coatings, gas fillings, hardenings, laminating and multiple glazing as well as the integration of screens and light shields, climatisation and photovoltaic modules have let to the development of new materials and machinery concepts to process with them. The result: even the in-plant logistic solutions have to take these strongly changed requirements and processing techniques into account. This includes among others an increased use of crane systems and vacuum lifting devices.
So for example the combination of vacuum lifting devices and crane bridges enables a single operator to handle and to position even big pane sizes safely, fast, economically and with a low effort. This minimizes processing times and material breakages (of the partly highly refined, expensive glasses) and moreover protects the health of the employees.
Before investing in a suitable lifting system, the respective process has to be investigated exactly and the cycle times and handling procedures for loading and unloading of the machines has to be taken into account.
As a result a solution should be chosen, which enables an optimal handling for approx. 80 per cent of the glass sizes and weights to be moved. Depending on the size of the work area to be served (machines, number of glass frames), it is to decide whether the vacumm lifters are to be used on X-Y lightweight crane systems or slewing jib cranes.
So-called rigidly guided handling devices (e.g. OKTOPUS® ERGO-Jet) are used preferably in the workshop. The rigid load guidance in a pneumatically powered and up and down moveable lifting column enables a fast handling of the sucked load without the annoying oscillation, which is standard practice on manually guided vacuum lifters on chain or wire rope hoists. The integrated pneumatic positioning facilities for rotating and or / tilting facilitate the handling and transport of the glasses considerably. The use of decentrally arranged and controlled ejectors (venture principle) creates a high safety level when handling the loads and the integrated blow-off functions shortens the cycle times.
For the remaining approx. 20 per cent of the sizes to be processed – mainly bigger or / and heavier panes – it makes sense to handle them with an additional second device (in most cases with a more simple configuration). Often the use of a (already existing) hall crane is cost-effective and sufficient regarding the cycle times that should be realized. Alternately, a second crane bridge can be installed in the lightweight crane system. Suitable second devices are chain-guided vacuum lifting devices with powered or manual rotating and / or tilting movements (e.g. from the product line OKTOPUS® ERGO-Sprint) or simple glass suction frames without any positioning facilities (e.g. the product family OKTOPUS® ERGO-Up). If necessary, they should be able to suck and to lift (convex and concave) curved panes too.
In any case, the suitability or the retrofitting of an existing crane system should be checked or accompanied by competent suppliers in consideration of static and constructional aspects. The decision for the most suitable solution should not only take the process optimization regarding the cost-use aspects into account, but also the wear and tear of eventually existing systems.
The investment in the most suitable handling technology helps to optimize the production process - especially if it is about extreme requirements in the process of oversized and heavy (curved) glasses. Only efficient manufacturing processes enable to operate competitively on the market.