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Stericycle MechLift Lift Assist System

By Clint Yonkers
Project Engineer
Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Co

Recently, Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Company was approached by a senior project engineer/manager working for a nationwide hazardous medical waste disposer.  This particular application takes place in a facility located in Northwest Indiana.  They needed assistance with an ergonomic handling problem. Mechlift Ergonomic

Typically, hazardous medical waste is deposited in supplied containers located in hospitals, outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices and so on.  These are then picked up, collected, and transported to the collection site.  This waste is then processed preparing it for safe and proper disposal. 

Mechlift rotate assistBecause this industry is ever changing and looking for continuous improvement opportunities, the decision was made to use a range of larger containers.  Depending on the need, sizes varied.  These new plastic waste containers are sized at approximately 32”x 23” x 40” tall to 30” x 50” x 40” tall.  Weights have now increased from 200 to 400 lbs. per container.  This has put the processor in a position where they could no longer handle these containers safely using the current manual methods at their site.

The challenge here was to develop a flexible lift assist system which would be able to grab the outside of the container, squeeze it, lift, and then rotate 360 degrees to dispense the contents into large open hoppers. To compound the complexity of this application, the entire operation takes place on a very narrow elevated dock area.    

The solution was to recommend our MechLift unit suspended from a free-standing bridge crane arrangement measuring 14’-0” wide x 35’-0” long. This ergonomic lift/rotate assist handler allowed their operators to pick up and dump the waste containers once they’ve been removed from a transport trailer and queued in the dock area under the bridge structure. 

StericycleThe operation of the unit is simple. Once a container has been identified for dumping an operator grabs on to the MechLift unit and manually moves it towards and positions the end effector tooling around it. Then the tooling, which is electrically driven, is engaged by hitting a button to activate the closing feature whereby grasping and holding the outside of the container. Next, the operator hits another button that is power driven, and the container is lifted. The lift assist mechanism, which is suspended under the bridge crane, is manually pushed to the proper location for dispensing. Once positioned correctly the operator uses a joystick to activate the rotation feature.  This is also powered electrically.  When these actions are completed, the cycle then repeats or the unit is set aside waiting for the next lift.        

Pictures and supplied video demonstrate the use in the field.

Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Company is an authorized and factory trained distributor of MechLift ergonomic assist handlers. As described above, these systems are specifically designed and manufactured to suit each application no matter how stringent. They are lightweight and precision built featuring a manual transverse and powered operated lift/rotate features. Each unit can be supplied with customized tooling allowing a host of different methods for grasping, lifting, turning, and rotating.

The next time you encounter an impossible product handling application contact Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Company for the right solution. Our systems integrators have the expertise to help you with your ergonomic lifting application. 

Contact Thomas Conveyor & Equipment for all your storage and material handling projects. Call us today at 844-220-0086.

Z Incline FDA Washdown Modular Belt Conveyor with Quick Lead Time

By Owen Toomey
Project Engineer
Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Co

This “Z” style incline FDA washdown modular belt conveyor is being installed inside of an FDA food grade washdown environment room. Z Incline FDA Modular Belt ConveyorThe conveyor will receive boxes with taped bottoms, and open tops with a bag of liquid food product inside the box at 30” infeed top of belt elevation at a rate of four boxes per minute. The product is conveyed up the incline to nose over at 46” top of belt elevation at the discharge end. The supports are hygienic, adjustable swivel locking casters, with +/-1.5” height adjustment.

This particular conveyor features a 104” Long carry way, 84” overall floor length,10” wide modular plastic belt, with a 20° (degree) Z incline. The belting is Intralox S1100 Flush grid friction top modular belting, white, with 3.1 Diameter drive sprockets. Z Incline FDA Washdown ConveyorThe product is guided with UHMW guard rail. The frame is constructed of 300 series stainless steel and is fully welded. We utilize hygienic construction methods for high care applications. The carry way and return rollers are made of white UHMW. This conveyor can be dis-assembled and re-assembled for cleaning without the use of any tools (toolless removal). Included is a washdown NEMA 4x / IP66 variable frequency drive (VFD), side mounted on a support arm, pre-wired to the IP69K stainless steel motor and gear reducer, and an 8’ long loose end cord is supplied for your electrical input. The side frame also has access slots for easy cleaning. Safety is also important, and we supplied a pre-wired and mounted maintained emergency stop switch on each side.

Conveying solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Thomas Conveyor has the resources to provide a plug-in solution for your conveyance requirements. Lead times have been extended for most industries due to the ongoing pandemic, but we are still able to fabricate Hygienic food grade washdown conveyors with controls within four weeks from time of order.

Z Incline Modular Belt ConveyorWe have a modern manufacturing facility that takes pride in producing high quality items at a great value to service your needs. We strive to keep your work environment efficient and clean. Our hygienic conveyor line is fabricated and made in the great state of Illinois, USA. Being in the center hub of the Midwest gives our customers more economic freight options due to the logistics of our location. Our engineers are fully capable of understanding your complex project needs and can be of great resource to you and your company for projects designed to promote growth for your company and improve your operations.

Our design experience working within food, pharmaceutical, medical, and clean rooms ensures that the attention we give your fabrication will exceed your expectations. Our manufacturing facility consistently delivers high caliber products at a great value. We are known for our product quality, creativity, value, on-time delivery, and commitment to our customers.

Storage for Laboratory Equipment

By Jeff Bollman
Project Engineer
Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Co

Mezzanine_AssemblyA major Biopharmaceutical Company approached Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Company to provide a storage solution in one of their laboratory equipment facilities. They were looking for a cost effective, safe and easy way to move and store mobile lab equipment.

The solution was a combination of a Wildeck mezzanine and vertical reciprocating conveyor (VRC) which is designed for the transfer of material only from one level to another.

Resin_Deck_MezzanineThe mezzanine was designed with a capacity of 250 lbs. PSF as some of the equipment was quite heavy.  The deck surface, a smooth finished resin board so equipment could be easily and safely be rolled into place. Roof deck underside was painted white to reflect light and brighten the area under the mezzanine. Mezzanine included handrails, kick plates and IBC approved stairs.

The VRC was a hydraulic cantilever model to maximize space with a capacity of 2,500 lbs. The VRC was designed with a low profile carriage, so no need to cut/build a pit or use a ramp that would take up valuable floor space and cause a possible “tripping” hazard. A small transition plate at the lower level allows a cart or equipment to be wheeled easily onto the carriage. VRC also included bi-parting swing gates with electro-mechanical locks and contacts at both levels and fully enclosed panels for added safety.

VRC_Top_LevelThomas Conveyor & Equipment provided all the design, approval drawings, PE sealed drawings and structural drawings along with complete mechanical and electrical installation. Truly a one-stop shop.

Contact Thomas Conveyor & Equipment for all your storage and material handling projects. Call us today at 844-220-0086.

Security Cage and Fencing

By Tim Knerr
Project Engineer
Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Co

A project was brought to Thomas Conveyor requiring a security enclosure around precious material that the customer required be locked at all times unless accessed by internal personnel. The design would include ceiling high panel walls and a door on either side of the enclosure. Both doors would need to be able to lock/unlock with a standard cylinder lock which would give only authorized personnel access to this area.

Security Cage and FencingOur design for the ceiling high fence panels allowed us to tie into the building’s ceiling joists as a top anchor that allowed us to control sway and maximize our wall stability. This gave the customer the exact height requirement they had asked for without requiring an extra large baseplate for each of our fence posts.

Our doorways included (1) single pedestrian door with a custom push bar exit and (1) double wide vehicle door which allows forklifts to enter our secured area to load and unload material on the rack structure inside the secured cage area.

In the end, the customer was very satisfied with their new Secured Product Cage. The material is safe under lock and key, and all authorized personnel are able to easily access the area when needed.

Please contact our team regarding any questions or future projects requiring security cage or fencing. 

Mechanical Straddle VRC (Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor)

By Tim Knerr
Project Engineer
Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Co

A project was brought to Thomas Conveyor involving a mezzanine expansion for a large scale manufacturer in the Chicagoland area. Thomas Conveyor was contracted to design and install a Double Wide Mechanical VRC that would be used to carry heavy materials and equipment from the ground floor to the top of the mezzanine deck. The VRC would help the factory workers transport these heavy loads safely and securely. This eliminates the need for heavy duty forklifts or Lull to lift material to the edge of an open Pivot Gate on the second floor of the mezzanine which can be extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous for the forklift driver.Mechanical Straddle VRC

The VRC was designed to specifically match all of the customer’s needs. To maintain a standard “Z-pattern” when loading (product going in the front of the carriage and out the back), the VRC would straddle the top deck of the newly built mezzanine. A recessed pit was also dug so that the carriage platform would meet directly with the 1st level floor which the material would be loaded from. This eliminated the need for an approach ramp which would take up floor space the customer could not afford to lose. The VRC would also be double wide which allowed for two fully loaded pallets to be placed side by side in the carriage to save loading time for forklift drivers.

After installation and upon final inspection, the VRC was ready to be used by the customer for all material and equipment transportation needs.

Please feel free to contact our team regarding any questions or future projects involving any material lifts or VRC equipment. 

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