Milwaukee, WI (June 10, 2008) – Pflow sets speed record with customized DB Series VRCs!
Pflow Industries pioneered and has subsequently dominated the vertical reciprocating conveyor (VRC) category by taking a good idea and continuing to make it work for an ever-increasing variety of industries and applications. From a single-lift model in 1977, the core Pflow product line has grown to include six standard model series, each of which can be customized as needed to fit perfectly with the specifications of a particular customer. Sometimes the modifications are minor, and sometimes they are far more involved.
Recently Pflow customized two Series DB VRCs in a manner well beyond the norm for JL French Automotive Castings, Inc. of Sheboygan, WI.
In 2006 JL French was in the midst of a steady increase in business necessitating a redesign of the manufacturing floor to achieve greater production volumes. The most efficient use of the existing space required two separate areas where in-process castings needed to be automatically elevated to get to the next manufacturing module. In one area the lift was 14.5 ft and in the other it was 16.2 ft. The key requirement to the elevation mechanism was speed, with the common themes of low maintenance, reliability and safety also important. The castings were a uniform weight (between 12 and 16 lbs); but they varied in size and shape, and each had to be lifted individually.
Initially JL French worked with material handling experts on various system designs, each of which had prohibitive features:
A continuous vertical conveyor (CVC) system, basically a continuous loop, vertical escalator with platforms was considered. Certain height restrictions existed in the building, and the ceiling provided a clearance of less than two feet – not enough room for the platforms to hinge at the top and continue on the downward loop. Plus a clearance pit would be needed in the floor, and JL French was leery of the frequent maintenance likely required to operate the complex CVC system.
Industrial elevators were evaluated; but in order to achieve the necessary throughput multiple parts would need to be lifted together– a significant inconsistency to the desired production sequence.
An inclined belt system, a type of CVC with a slope and design similar to a straight staircase, didn’t get much past the discussion stages because the horizontal floor space required simply wasn’t available.
By the time JL French connected with Pflow, it was clear that innovative thinking was needed. Pflow engineers examined the specifications and determined that a DB series lift might work; but in order to achieve the necessary cycle time, it would require a maximum vertical speed of 350 ft/min, almost six times the standard DB series speed of 60 ft/min. Rather than shaking hands and moving on, the Pflow team confidently assured JL French that it could be done!
The design collaboration between Pflow, JL French and the area material handling dealer resulted in a system with the following features:
A Servo-controlled asynchronous AC motor that continuously provides torque while the platform is stationary, eliminating mechanical floor-level switches and the need to engage the brake during loading and unloading. This results in zero wasted time, incredibly smooth operation and virtually infinite brake life (the brake is set only during extended idle periods). The motor has an absolute position encoder that provides motor rotation information to the controller, telling it exactly where to stop based on motor revolutions. The motor automatically adjusts to the varying product weight.
Chain-mounted counterweights that reduce the torque requirement on the motor and allow for the necessary speed to be achieved with less horsepower.
A 3 ft x 3 ft lift platform with chain-driven live rollers (CDLR), served by CDLR in-feed and discharge conveyors.
A one-unit-at-a-time liftcycle with a weight capacity of 20 lbs.
An achieved cycle time of 13 seconds; exactly as specified.
“We’ve always been the industry leader in using programmable control of motors on VRC applications,” said Mark Webster, Pflow vice president of engineering. “We constantly evaluate variable speed drive advancements in terms of capability, reliability, and cost effectiveness. The technology used at JL French is scalable to higher capacity and higher speed applications.”
Milwaukee, WI (December 15, 2006) – Acquisition Gives Pflow’s Product Line A Lift
Pflow Industries, Inc., the leading manufacturer of vertical conveyors designed to transport materials between two or more levels, has purchased The Langley Manufacturing Company located in Victor, New York.
According to Ted Ruehl, President of Pflow, “this is a natural product line extension as Langley has been designing and manufacturing high quality material lifting and dumping machinery for over 40 years.” Ruehl sees excellent customer value in adding Langley’s Sidewalk Lift, designed for basement storage to street level transfer of materials through sidewalk openings, as well as its line of dumpers.
The new offerings will be sold through Pflow’s international network of distributors. Ruehl stated that Pflow also intends to keep serving Langley’s existing customer base with replacement parts.
Pflow is coming off a record sales year in 2006 and Ruehl forecasts a “strong environment” for the material handling sector of the economy in 2007. He says Pflow continues to be interested in acquiring companies that offer high quality products in the material handling industry.
Since 1977, Pflow has offered total engineering, fabrication, and coast-to-coast installation services. At its headquarters in Milwaukee, company facilities include over 110,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and a complete research & development center. Over 35% of Pflow’s staff are engineers or R & D personnel.
Pflow lifts move materials of all shapes and sizes and are available in capacities from 50 lbs. to over 200,000 lbs. with unlimited vertical rise, and are especially useful in manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution operations. Mechanical, hydraulic, high-speed, high-throughput, and customized lifts are available, as well as fully automated systems. Applications, both interior and exterior, include mezzanines, balconies, through-floor, and elevator shafts.
Pflow also designs and manufactures a patented product called the Cartveyor™ Shopping Cart Conveyor which transports shopping carts from one level to another. Especially popular in multi-level retail stores, the Cartveyor is installed parallel and adjacent to an escalator and allows store customers to simply push their shopping carts in and ride the escalator next to their carts.
Pflow Industries has always focused on safety, advanced technology and creating solutions for specific vertical material handling problems. Visit this page periodically for the latest Pflow news. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please call Pflow at 414-352-9000 or Email us at email@example.com
Milwaukee, WI (December 11, 2006) – New Product from Pflow Industries Is Designed for Shopping at the Next Level
Pflow Industries, Inc., a manufacturer of a complete line of vertical conveyors designed to transport materials between one or more levels for over 30 years, has unveiled a new website www.cartveyor.com for its patented Cartveyor™ product.
The Cartveyor Shopping Cart Conveyor transports shopping carts from one level to another and is becoming increasingly popular as large retailers move into urban areas and build multi-level stores as opposed to expansive, single story layouts in suburban areas.
Several problems are created when shopping is done on multiple levels; one being the requirement to move customers with their shopping carts (or trolleys or buggies) between the levels. This problem is not easily solved with traditional means of vertical transportation. Elevators are not efficient for moving the high volume required, and inclined moving walkways take up a huge amount of retail space due to their requirement of being installed at a less than 12 degree incline.
Installed parallel and adjacent to an escalator, Pflow’s Cartveyor allows store customers to simply push their shopping carts in and ride the escalator next to their carts. (The Cartveyor can also be equipped as a stand alone unit.) The Cartveyor incorporates many safety features, requires minimal maintenance, and is designed for years of trouble free operation.
The new website features a video of the Cartveyor in action.
A major U.S. retailer, who already used Pflow’s vertical conveyor systems for moving pallets, challenged Pflow to solve the problem of safely and efficiently moving shopping carts between levels. Having successfully designed and built hundreds of continuous vertical conveyors for the United States Post Office and having over 35% of its personnel as engineers or Research & Development specialists, Pflow was more than up to the challenge as the Cartveyor demonstrates.
Milwaukee, WI (August 11, 2006) – Pflow Industries Helps New Balance Run Lean
“Lean Manufacturing.” What’s that you ask? Perhaps a new carb-cutting diet from Dr. Atkins? Or better yet, a new invention by a team of global scientists that makes candy bars a healthy option as a midday snack?
It’s neither, but it’s something that should definitely be on a business’ menu for success! “Lean Manufacturing” is all the rage in warehouses and manufacturing plants world-wide. In the vernacular, the term itself was actually coined by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones while conducting research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the workplace, “Lean Manufacturing “ is a model of management designed to make the best use of space, tools, materials, equipment and knowledge that ultimately helps manufacturers save time, movement and, eventually money.
There’s perhaps no better example in action than at New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc.—the global sporting goods industry leader which produces and ships 40 million shoes annually. Its fully-automated, state-of-the-art warehouse facility in Lawrence, Massachusetts boasts 250,000 square feet and houses 130 employees. Built in 1997, the warehouse has enabled New Balance to consolidate and streamline distribution of both domestically produced and imported products to retailers throughout the country. But more efficient material handling was attainable in large part due to “Lean Manufacturing”, and in no small part due to Pflow Industries.
Aside from a series of logistical adjustments that were made, a significant improvement to the overall process was the installation of a Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor (VRC) from Pflow, a company recognized as being instrumental in actually creating the Vertical Conveyor industry. All in all, the efforts and updates have helped New Balance reduce the time needed to prepare and ship a full order from 17 weeks to just two.
Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Pflow has been the industry leader in the design and manufacturing of safe, vertical material handling equipment since 1977. VRCs from Pflow provide a fast, convenient and safe way to move goods to/from mezzanines, balconies, basements and between levels in multi-story buildings.
The New Balance warehouse, which contains a three-level mezzanine, has over three miles of conveyor belts running at any given time, and the shoes are processed in waves from a Tilt Tray sorter. One of the warehouse re-design’s major initiatives was to catch costly mistakes made in processing, such as incomplete boxes of shoes that were incorrectly selected for shipment, before they reached the end of the line. Pflow’s “lean” machine perfectly suited to serve the 1.5 million dollar tilt-tray platform was a Series M Vertical Lift that is designed in particular to alleviate problems that might occur in unit processing. If and when a wave is run without the correct shoe, the Pflow M1 is loaded with the correct shoe necessary to make the order whole, and then, with the touch of an elevator-like button, brought to the proper level for insertion.
The Series M Lift offers high performance and durability with a two-post mechanical design that is ideal for transporting large, heavy loads between two or more levels. Bob Knapp of Baron Industries in Burlington, Massachusetts, who sold and distributed the lift, knew that Pflow’s Series M is also excellent for high-cycle, automated systems or frequent-use applications, such as the New Balance warehouse. Pflow engineered the machine for New Balance to meet the exact application and height requirements needed, and the carriage is lifted and lowered by a heavy roller chain attached to a motorized mechanical lifting mechanism.
While “lean manufacturing” didn’t turn out to be a way to speed up the metabolism, for New Balance it did speed up its run to the top of the athletic shoe industry. By applying the techniques presented by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, and seeking a higher level of performance with a little help from Pflow Industries, the Boston-based sneaker giant has dashed from No. 8 in 1995 to its current ranking of No. 4.
Milwaukee, WI (July 15, 2006) – Pflow Series 21 Vertical Lift Safely Handles Loads To 6,000 Pounds
The Series 21 Vertical Lift, by Pflow Industries, offers efficient, vertical material handling and is equipped with patented safety features not available on other vertical lifts. The unit transports materials between two levels and is adaptable to mezzanine, through-floor, interior or exterior applications.
Designed for loads up to 6,000 lbs., the Series 21 is available with carriage sizes to 10’ x 10’. The carriage—available in straddle or cantilever styles—is hydraulically lifted and lowered from level to level. The Series 21 Lift features 6” wide flange guide columns that are 66% heavier than other vertical lifts on the market, and oversized bearings and heavy roller chain ensure long-lasting performance.
The Series 21 Vertical Lift is equipped with a heavy torsion bar that links the two hydraulic lift cylinders in order to equalize the load, eliminate twisting of the carriage and relieve stress on the guides, columns and carriage. As a result, the carriage remains level at all times for smooth, efficient operation. Dual, spring-loaded safety cams provide added protection against uncontrolled descent. The Series 21 Lift can also be equipped with Pflow’s exclusive, patented DeckLock System that automatically locks the carriage into place at the critical upper levels and eliminates carriage bounce or drift.
The Series 21 also comes with a variety of standard safety features that meet or exceed code requirements. These features include 8’ high mesh enclosures, safety gates at each level, safety chains and railings, overtravel protection, backstop panels and remote, heavyduty control stations. All safety gates are electrically and mechanically interlocked with carriage movement and lift operation. Velocity fuses prevent uncontrolled carriage descent in the unlikely event of a total hydraulic hose rupture.
Milwaukee, WI (June 15, 2006) – Pflow Industries’ Engineers Flex Their Muscles For Heavy Lifting And Storage Of Super-Sized Vehicles
Their Series DB has a lifting capacity to 100 lbs…Series C up to 200 lbs…Series D up to 3000 lbs…Series 21 up to 6000 lbs…Series M up to 8000 lbs…and Series F up to 30,000 lbs. So what happened when an application called for a load of 200,000 lbs? The Engineers and Research & Development personnel at PFLOW INDUSTRIES got pumped up to design a Special Vertical Lifting Solution!
AIA Architects of Reno, Nevada had a client that owned property on a lake but plans for the residence would require slightly more than your standard three, four, or even five car garage. This client owned dozens of expensive sports, luxury, and vintage automobiles and motorcycles.
A large above-ground parking structure would have been considered unsightly, so the obvious direction to go seemed to be down. But building a ramp would have consumed valuable real estate, and besides, no ordinary underground garage would do. AIA’s client also needed room for three large recreational vehicles, a 55-foot offshore racing boat and a helicopter!
In response, AIA designed a parking facility or more precisely a “carriage house” consisting of three levels—two above ground and one below. The uppermost level has over 2,300 square feet of space including two bedrooms, two baths, a living room, office/den, kitchen and a deck overlooking the lake. The other two levels are for parking, featuring 2,000 sq. ft. at the driveway level and 6,100 sq. ft. below grade.
AIA’s concept called for a hydraulic lift with a platform large enough to accommodate the largest vehicle—a 55-foot-long RV weighing more than 50,000 pounds. The lift needed to retract completely into a 13-foot-deep pit, followed by the 90,000 pound “lid” of steel and concrete that would double as part of the driveway when in the lowered position. Add the platform itself, and the total weight to be lifted would exceed 100 tons.
But it wouldn’t be that easy; other factors were involved. So, knowing expert and experienced capabilities would be needed, AIA contacted Pflow to design and manufacture what would be a state-of-the-art lifting system.
The fact that the lift would have to fully retract into the pit and yet be flush with the driveway when raised would require that the platform guides terminate some distance below grade, which presented a formidable design challenge.
A shallow water table and environmental concerns would preclude a deep pit under the platform. In addition, the short length of engagement between the platform and guides would offer little help in keeping the platform level under uneven loading.
The Pflow team was not fazed by the complications. To ensure a level platform throughout travel, and to provide accurate positioning at loading and unloading points, a servo-hydraulic system was incorporated. Lifting is accomplished via six 12-inch bore telescopic hydraulic cylinders and a 75hp, 600-gallon hydraulic power unit delivering 160gpm. Oil is supplied to each cylinder through an independent hydraulic circuit with servo-proportional control valves for regulating flow. To track position, individual linear transducers are incorporated on each cylinder providing absolute position feedback to the multi-axis servo control module. Through this module, position, velocity, drive level, position error and many other values can be monitored in real time and plotted. The parameters for each axis can also be tuned independently.
With absolute position data available for each cylinder, important safety-monitoring functions are possible. The system automatically stops travel if any cylinder axis fails to follow the prescribed path within a pre-set tolerance, or if an axis goes out of synchronization with any other axis. A programmable logic controller is used to link the servo-controller to the rest of the system, receiving signals from position switches and other input devices, monitoring system status and controlling the operation of the hydraulic power system and the safety features. Fault diagnostics and audible/visual alarms indicate action required by the operator, either to reset the system or call for service. If the platform drifts downward at the upper level, it will automatically re-level.
It seems that no job (or load) is too big (or heavy) when Pflow puts its minds to it. The company also has lifts in operation handling diverse materials ranging from 50,000 pound paper rolls to 110,000 pound fuel cells.
Milwaukee, WI (May 15, 2006) – Pflow Industries’ Lift Helps Funeral Home Control Environment
With over 12,000 world-wide installations, Pflow Industries has been called on to answer many different problems. So, when Becker Ritter Funeral and Cremation Services called, Pflow came up with the solution. The Southeastern Wisconsin funeral home wanted to utilize its basement as both a car wash and storage area. In addition, they were looking for a trouble-free way to get caskets from the mortuary to the hearse.
The Series F Mechanical Vertical Lift was the solution, and Pflow custom designed one to meet Becker Ritter’s needs. The lift transports the hearse (and the company’s full-size van) from the outside parking lot to the basement, where the vehicles can be cleaned and kept out of Wisconsin’s extreme weather conditions. Caskets can now be transferred to the hearse without going outside as well.
The four corner support and heavy duty construction of the Series F provides superior strength, reliability and long term performance. The Series F accommodates loads up to 30,000 lbs. and offers maximum flexibility in carriage size. The unit custom designed for Becker Ritter has an 8,000 lb. capacity and its 10’W x 22’L carriage makes it easy to drive the hearse on and send to the basement. Becker Ritter estimates their vertical lift from Pflow is used about 12 to 15 times a day.