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Silicon Ingot Handling Lift Assist Tool Provides Solution for Lifting Injuries and Product Damage

Ergonomic Partners provides a custom lifting solution for their customer.

Problem: Customer was lifting very expensive silicon ingots by hand. This resulted in several problems for our customer. First, a chip or crack in one of the ingots could result in a loss of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars of valuable material. Next, this is a high density product, so a 12 inch diameter section could easily weigh over 200 pounds. The operators were lifting these parts from tables or carts. This resulted in several back injuries, shoulder injuries, and pinched fingers.

Requirement: The ingots were close in proximity to each other. This prevented us from picking up the parts with a power gripper. The parts were expensive, so we could not use an air balancer or vacuum lifter because of the precise placement. We needed to handle the parts safely and eliminate the heavy manual lifting despite these constraints.

Solution: We integrated a Gorbel Zero-Gravity PLC controlled hoist (Gorbel G-Force) integrated with a venturi vacuum tool. This allowed us to pick up the parts in close proximity safely. There were several safety features added to this tool. The vacuum lifter was integrated with pop-it valves, which pop green when a good vacuum seal has been obtained. The vacuum lifter had two separate vacuum circuits, each with enough capacity to lift the part safely. This was done in case one circuit failed, they had an immediate built in back up. The Gorbel zero-gravity lifter was provided with a feature called float mode. With a built in load cell, the Gorbel G-Force could sense the exact weight of the load. When in float mode, the operator was allowed to put their hands on the part to position the load. Essentially, the load was made to feel weightless while the operator positioned it.

Custom ergonomic lift assist integrated with Gorbel G-Force for lifting silicon ingots The lifting device is powered by venturi vacuum run from the customers compressed air supply.

Result: Because there was less strain on the operators, productivity rose while injuries decreased. The intelligent hoist allowed the operators precise control. This resulted in dramatic decrease in product damage. Overall, it was a win win for operators and management.

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