Manufacturers that design and build preassembled stairs and staircases definitely have their own market niche. A good example is Krieger Treppen GmbH (KTG), which is located in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, and has designed, built and renovated staircases since the late 1960s for countless clients throughout Europe. KTG specialists are also increasingly pairing other materials, such as glass, stainless steel and various stone coverings, with wood to create a wide range of modern stairs.

Several years ago, KTG plant managers looked into ways to simultaneously lessen employees’ strenuous physical labor and increase overall plant efficiency and productivity. This search included meeting with experts at FIPA Inc., which makes vacuum cups and components, as well as end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT).

“After careful deliberation, we chose FIPA due to its extensive experience with developing custom lifting systems,” says Guido Krieger, managing director at KTG. “Their broad range of vacuum, gripper, crane and lifting systems, [together with a] talented in-house design and installation team, [helped us meet] a difficult challenge at a competitive price.”

The material handling system that FIPA built for KTG allows a single employee to safely and easily lift, relocate and precisely place large, rough-hewn wood planks that each weigh up to 353 pounds. Previously, the plank-lifting task required two or more employees. All planks are sourced from local sawmills.

“In modern woodworking shops, loading and unloading unwieldy wooden materials fed into machines is typically still done by hand, but is inefficient and dangerous,” says Rainer Mehrer, president of FIPA. “[The alternative is to use] expensive robotic lifting equipment that is [financially] inaccessible to most small- and medium-size companies.”

Key features of the FIPA-designed handling system are a standard FIPALift Expert tube lifter, a crossbeam that easily adjusts to accommodate varying plank lengths, and four moveable vacuum suction cups. The cups are equipped with specialized sealing foam to securely grip and prevent vacuum loss on the rough, uneven, and sometimes fissured surface of the planks.

The tube lifter has a single suspension point, a lift height of 8.2 feet, and a lifting capacity of from 66.14 pounds to 507.06 pounds. It is available in Basic, Smart and dual versions (the latter having a lifting force of up to 639.34 pounds), and is compatible with the company’s entire line of vacuum cups, components, accessories, adapters and EOAT.

The tube lifter comes with several options, including an automatic shutoff of the vacuum supply, wireless remote control to shut off the supply, rust-resistant stainless steel components for use in corrosive environments, and a silencing box to reduce the noise level of the vacuum pump.

Other options are fixed and flexible elongated controllers, and fitted crossbeams that handle large materials. Fixed elongated controllers measure 19.65 to 47.24 inches in length; flexible units are up to 62.99 inches long.

Manufacturers in sheet metal processing, chemical and many other industries regularly use the FIPALift Expert tube lifters in numerous applications. For more information on standard and custom material handling systems, call 919-651-9888 or visit