Maintaining Distance During Package Season


February 18, 2021

Black Week, Cyber Monday, and the end-of-year rush present a challenge to online retailers. Parcel delivery services rely on additional staff to process the high volume of orders on time. However, hygiene regulations are making workflows even more difficult this year. Fortunately, the JumboFlex provides a remedy. With the vacuum tube lifter, heavy parcels can be sorted, stacked, and loaded quickly, ergonomically, and at the required distance since moving them no longer requires two people.

Courier, express, and parcel service providers (CEP) are setting year-end records. The coronavirus pandemic has tightened regulations in 2020. Compared to 2019, the German Parcel and Express Logistics Association (BIEK) expects growth in parcel shipments for private households to double. According to the market analysis, which the association commissions annually from KE-CONSULT Kurte&Esser GbR, growth throughout the CEP industry is between 15 and 20 percent compared to last year’s seven to eight percent. This represents an increase of up to 60 million B2C shipments during the end-of-year rush in 2020. Additional employees must ensure on-time delivery of an estimated 420 million shipments. The challenge is to expand capacity while protecting the health of the workforce and end customers. J. Schmalz GmbH supports parcel service providers as well as online mail order companies with technical aids such as vacuum tube lifters.

“The JumboFlex with multi-gripper is by far the most frequently used device in the CEP sector. The coronavirus pandemic has increased its benefits,” explains Michael Schlaich, Head of Business Development Processes at Schmalz. Employees can use vacuum tube lifters to handle packages, bags, and other goods more ergonomically and in large quantities. Flexibility and speed play an important role, especially in distribution centers for parcel service providers and online retailers. Thanks to the quick-change adapter, operators can change the gripper in just a few steps. However, that is not always necessary, because in addition to specific suction cups, e.g. for bags or bins, the multi-gripper for the vacuum tube lifter JumboFlex is so universal that it securely holds different cardboard box sizes and qualities with a minimum coverage of 75 percent of the suction area. This also includes unstable and open cardboard boxes. “In this way, our multi-gripper can handle 80 percent of all scenarios, which virtually eliminates the need to change grippers,” explains Schlaich. This also speeds up the process.

One-Hand Show

Parcel service providers and online mail order companies use the ergonomic lifting aid throughout the entire flow of goods. For incoming goods (inbound), employees pick up cardboard boxes from the conveyor belt and place them on mesh trolleys or pallets. The goods are then transferred to the warehouse or – in the case of online retailers – to commissioning. Employees in the logistics center use the JumboFlex once again to handle the packages, sort, and store them. For outgoing goods (outbound), the lifting aid assists with palletizing and repackaging the outgoing cardboard boxes or bags.

Employees guide the lifting, lowering, and releasing of the load using finger movements. “We designed the operation to be so simple and intuitive that even training new employees is easy,” explains the handling expert. For training purposes, Schmalz has produced its own videos explaining how to use the JumboFlex series. “The videos allow for non-contact training and help ease the tense personnel situation. We have also gotten rid of wordy supplementary texts. The images are straightforward and self-explanatory,” Schlaich emphasizes.

Distance Even for the Heavyweights

Throughout the process, there are clear guidelines regarding the weight that a single employee is allowed to lift alone. Depending on the logistics company, the maximum is between 7 and 15 kg. If loads are heavier, the workpiece must be carried in pairs. However, this is both labor-intensive and breaks current distancing regulations. “Whereas in the past we only ever considered ergonomics when it came to health benefits, the JumboFlex turns out to be a win-win solution,” explains Schlaich. Vacuum tube lifters solve the problem of lifting without being able to maintain sufficient distance when it involves two people. They also protect employees’ backs. 

Operators do not need to worry about excessive energy consumption by the vacuum aids. As an option, Schmalz can add the radio remote control SRC to the control handle. Operators can use it to switch the vacuum generator off and on again directly on the operator handle when not in use. This allows mail order companies to save up to 40 percent energy at the touch of a button.

“The JumboFlex is the ideal complement to protective equipment and disinfectants,” concludes Schlaich. In addition, the vacuum tube lifter speeds up processes and reduces strain during package handling. “Especially during these busy times, it is important to make processes as efficient as possible. The primary goal here should be to make on-time delivery possible without endangering employee health.”


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