Glass is a truly unique material. Transparent and chemically inert, it is used in a wealth of applications, and has become one of modern civilisation’s most important materials.
For factories and warehouses that deal in glass, its unique properties serve up unique challenges, particularly in terms of lifting and shifting. But there is a solution that can greatly enhance the safety and efficiency of handling glass: a vacuum lifter.
In this guide we’ll take a look at this solution, to see whether it might be the right piece of equipment for your warehouse or factory.
Glass handling challenges
Before we zoom in on suction glass lifters, we should first understand the challenges they are built to solve.
In terms of handling, it’s difficult to think of a greater challenge than the one posed by glass. It is smooth, making it difficult to grab onto, and heavy, making it difficult to move even with a good grip.
It’s also very brittle and fragile – the slightest knock can shatter a pane, and securing a piece of glass in the wrong place can even see it break under its own weight during a lift. Glass will also be chipped and scratched if it comes into contact with hard materials like metal and concrete.
In order to safely, efficiently and productively handle glass, you need to use lifting equipment that plays to the material’s strengths, not exposes its weaknesses. And that’s exactly what vacuum lifters are designed to do.
How do vacuum lifters lift glass?
Vacuum lifters are machines that capitalise on the smooth, flat surface of glass to lift and shift the material.
Vacuum lifters are fitted with glass carrying suction cups connected to flexible tubes that run back to a vacuum pump. The suction pads are capable of achieving a particularly strong grip that is also perfectly gentle on the glass, avoiding the strapping or rigging equipment that could potentially chip, scratch or break the glass.
Manual glass lifting equipment like manual suction cup lifters usually require at least two people to complete a lift. Mechanical glass vacuum lifters, on the other hand, can be used by a single operator via a control panel.
Vacuum lifters can even be used to lift curved glass, by simply switching to an appropriately shaped suction pad.
How to lift glass with a vacuum lifter safely
How do you lift and shift glass safely with a vacuum lifter? While every warehouse, factory and production line should develop their own safety guidelines based on their unique situation and circumstances, here is a basic rundown of a safe lift:
- Check conditions: Glass should not be lifted in sub-zero temperatures or in winds greater than 25kph (when lifting outside).
- Check load weight: The weight of the load must be within the working load limit (WLL) of the glass vacuum lifter.
- Check pad spread: The suction pads must cover an appropriate area to ensure the glass doesn’t bend, break or peel away from the pad. Pads must also be placed in a stable configuration.
- Conduct a pre-use check: Check pads for faults and test warning devices at the start of every work day. Conduct deeper checks monthly/yearly.
- Conduct a pre-lift check: Ensure the necessary vacuum is achieved and the pump is off before attempting any lift.
- Complete the lift: Lift the load a couple of centimetres off the ground, then check the vacuum gauge before continuing the lift. See the lift through – never leave suspended loads unattended.
Enabling New Zealand businesses to work smarter, quicker and safer
At Stratalign we are your local glass vacuum lifter experts. We have built a reputation for supplying high quality vacuum lifters that make Kiwi businesses work better, safer and more productively.
Our lifting equipment experts are ready to guide you to the perfect glass vacuum lifting solution: one that is tailored to your unique needs.