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Whether at home, on the road or at work: every day we use products that make our lives easier or more beautiful. But do these products also make your back easier? Discover all back friendly products with the "AGR- seal of approval" of the Healthy Back Campaign. Just click through - you will be surprised!

Load-lifting systems

Load-lifting systems and crane systems: useful helpers for heavy work

Do you have to do a lot of lifting in your work? And is it not always possible to do that in a back-friendly way? Then adjust your working environment and use tools that make it easier for you to lift loads. For example, clever load lifting systems that can be put to versatile use.

Reduce back strain and promote back health

Unfortunately, it must be said that in most cases we get backache after behaving incorrectly. The clearest example is how we lift loads. If you keep your legs stiff and straight when lifting a crate of drinks and bend your back to heave it up, you shouldn’t really be surprised if you end up with lumbago.

Lifting loads like this will squash the intervertebral discs into a wedge shape. If you do this all the time, the intervertebral discs will age prematurely. As a result, the disc core is no longer retained in its correct position, it slips back and exerts painful pressure on the nerve fibres in the spinal cord. The vertebral joints can also be affected, with the risk of them getting wedged together when the muscular corset is too weak.

Those who’ve been to a back school know the rules for lifting loads correctly: stand up close to the load in a frontal position, hold your back straight when bending down and bend your knees to lift the load up in a flowing movement close to the body.

Making clever use of machines

Sometimes, even the simplest solutions are not easy to implement. Time pressure, workplace layouts and even knee problems can make it difficult to use a proper lifting technique. That’s why it makes sense to use load lifting systems to help with this kind of work. Particularly in view of the fact that many loads are so heavy that they cannot be lifted by most average workers. Modern electric cable hoists and vacuum lifters then prove to be valuable helpers. Among others, they should be suitable for individual use, and it should be possible to adapt them to the specific workplace.

Vacuum lifter/vacuum gripper

Vacuum systems can be used for stacking boxes or bags, loading drums or barrels, laying stone slabs and much more besides. The technical principle is extremely simple: a vacuum is generated between the suction foot of the suction lifter and the item being lifted, so that the air tube is compressed by the negative pressure which makes it possible to move the load. Another possible approach would be to use a vacuum lifter as a gripping device. In this case, a vacuum formed between the workpiece and the suction plate provides secure adhesion. The lifting movement is performed using a chain hoist, cable hoist or other lifting gear. Different suction feet must be provided depending on requirements. An additional rubber sealing skirt can ensure that the vacuum system still works perfectly even when the material is porous.

Vacuum lifters/grippers are available in various designs. They can also be fastened to different suspension systems. Here again it is crucial that the load lifter is not too heavy and has an ergonomic operating handle for both right- and left-handed users. Tools such as hooks, clamping grippers and vacuum tools must be easily changed. Important features include fast vacuum application and release; the load should also turn and swivel easily. Swivelling can be facilitated by a rotary function integrated at the top and bottom of the air tube.

Wire rope hoists / chain hoists

Wire rope hoists and chain hoists offer another way of mechanically lifting loads. Wire rope hoists are ideal for moving loads weighing up to 120 kilograms – whether boxes, bags, buckets, plates, drums or even pallets. Chain hoists can be used for heavier loads weighing up to several hundred kilograms. Where attached to slewing cranes or other crane systems, chain hoists are particularly versatile. To ensure a high level of user-friendliness, the wire rope hoist should be as light as possible in relation to the load lifted. Also ideal is the ergonomic operating handle that is suitable for both right-handed and left-handed individuals.

To make the work quick, easy and economical, it is beneficial if tools such as hooks, clamping grippers and vacuum grippers can be changed quickly – especially where different loads need to be lifted in the lifter’s field of work. A quick-change coupling makes it much easier to change the tool as it eliminates any great workload or tooling requirements. The rope hoist should also be designed for easily accessible lifting, turning and swivelling from above or from the sides at a wide range of different angles with fully variable speed control.

Safety aspects play a major role for both vacuum lifters and rope hoists. For example, the load must not be allowed to fall down immediately if there is a power failure. The system must detect the error and be designed to hold the vacuum until the load can be put down safely for man and machine.

Crane systems

Crane systems are generally used to give stationary vacuum lifters and wire rope hoists a large operating range. They are designed to provide a high range of motion in both the horizontal and vertical planes. The required size of the working area and the lifting height depends entirely on the application requirements in question.

Mobile vacuum lifters

If you have to move loads in different places, mobile vacuum lifters are the ideal solution. They can be transported using any standard industrial truck (such as a forklift truck or pallet truck) and offer a back-friendly order picking solution for packages – wherever they are located.


  • Load lifting systems must be suitable for a wide range of different materials and forms: sacks, bags, drums, barrels, boxes, slabs and panels, panes of glass, cases, canisters and much more besides.

  • Depending on the various loads, it must be possible to adjust the systems individually to the load being carried. Manufacturers must offer different mounting fixtures and address specific customer requirements.

  • Different loads require different fixtures. This is why quick-change systems make sense with quick, easy change processes as required, needing no tools as far as possible.

  • Loads are usually not transported on the spot but over certain distances. Swivel cranes or crane systems are therefore appropriate.

  • It is important to maximise user-friendliness by making the lifters safe for both right-handed and left-handed users to operate.

  • The users operating the system will not always be the same size so that individual adjustment of the suspended height must be possible.

  • Generally, swift and safe activation of the vacuum and picking up of the load is just as important as the subsequent release phase.

  • Regardless of the system, it should be possible to lift, turn and swivel from above or from the side at different angles and without requiring too much physical effort. Electrical assistance is an advantage for larger items.

  • With all load lifters in general, and in particular with vacuum systems, it is important to ensure that the load cannot fall down suddenly. It must be warranted that the system will hold the load for a limited time and put it down safely, even if there is a power failure, for example.

Minimum requirements

  • Suitable for an extremely wide range of materials, shapes and weights
  • High level of user-friendliness thanks to …
  • … a light weight relative to the load
  • … an ergonomic operating handle for both left-handed and right-handed users
  • … quick changeover of the gripping device (hooks, vacuum tools or clamping grippers), at the place of use if necessary
  • … hover height adjustment
  • … quick load suction and release
  • … swift and safe load lifting and lowering
  • … smooth load turning and swivelling
  • … a high level of safety, even during power failures
  • It must be possible to move workpieces ergonomically at different points of both the horizontal and vertical planes
  • Transporting of a mobile vacuum lifter to the place of use must be easy and safe

Products in this sector with the AGR seal of approval



J. Schmalz GmbH



J. Schmalz GmbH
Johannes-Schmalz-Str. 1
72293 Glatten
Phone +497443/24030
Fax +497443/2403259
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August-Thyssen-Str. 1
41564 Kaarst
Phone +49 211/20542740
Fax +49 211/20542749
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