Tectra Automation supplied three Schmalz vacuum lifters to mining supplier RSC Ekusasa Mining’s packaging lines at its resin manufacturing facility in Wadeville, Johannesburg. Used to palletise boxes of the company’s RocLoc® resin capsules at the end of three production lines, the lifters replace more manual, labour-intensive item handling, allowing the facility to increase overall packing efficiency and safety.
Used in roof bolting applications in underground mining, RSC Ekusasa Mining manufactures a range of different capsules in various lengths and diameters as well as various formulae that offer different setting times, from 15 seconds to 5-10 minutes. The company currently produces up to 45 000 boxes of resin capsules per month, with between 45 and 60 boxes per pallet.
“We began building this facility in 2013, and, with a central focus on a lean, efficient production process, the Schmalz vacuum lifters were part of the design from the start,” explains Alfredo Piroddi, General Manager – Resin, RSC Ekusasa Mining. “It brings the handling operation in line with international standards, and enhances the productivity and safety of workers loading the boxes onto pallets.”
The three handlers – the Schmalz JumboFlex vacuum tube lifter range – are an ergonomic handling solution with intuitive load lifting, lowering and releasing. “They are designed for handling lighter items up to 50 kg, and so were the ideal solution for these boxes, which weigh around 20 kg on average,” explains Malan Bosman, Products Manager – Pneumatics, Tectra Automation.
“The lifters don’t just speed up the operation; they take the fatigue and physical strain away from the pallet loading process,” Piroddi continues. “Issues around worker health and higher levels of absenteeism associated with manual lifting and loading are eliminated by the enhanced ergonomic operation of the vacuum handling process.”
With health and safety of labour becoming more of an issue in South Africa, these considerations are becoming increasingly important. “The use of vacuum handling technology is definitely growing,” Bosman explains. “With manual labour being both less efficient and less safe, more and more line managers are implementing it into their operations.”
Schmalz vacuum technology – a technology portfolio of over 3 500 components for both manual handling and automated gripping – is distributed in sub-Saharan Africa through Tectra Automation, a Hytec Group Company.