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Attachments boost safety and productivity for manufacturer

05 April 2013

Engineering manufacturer boosts safety and productivity by adopting sophisticated yet fast attach and release forklift attachments from St Clare Engineering.

St Clare Engineering manufactures the Grab-O-Matic range of drum and materials handling fork truck attachments and has developed a Quick Attach/Release System for its range that improves safety and increases productivity. 

Houghton International is a leading manufacturer and supplier of engineering fluids and lubricants. It has a requirement to lift and move thousands of drums a week at its Manchester plant and enquired if there was a safer and more efficient solution than was already in place. The Grab-O-Matic drum grabs currently being used were doing the job correctly but Houghton required something more bespoke for its operation.

The remit from Houghton included reducing the overall length of the unit to give the trucks more space to turn in between racks, a secure system to attach/release the units from the forks as they frequently change from moving pallets to moving drums and increased protection for the drums to eliminate dents and scratches at the base of the drums.

St Clare managed to incorporate these requirements into the Grab-O-Matic QR-2-DLR-WP. The pillars (drum supports) were moved back on top of the fork pockets, 150mm wide webbing drum supports were fitted to cushion the drums and the Quick Attach/Release System was fitted to the frames.

Lee Draper, operations manager at the Manchester plant of Houghton International says: "Since upgrading the Grab-O-Matic fork attachment double drum handlers to the new Quick Attach/Release System for attaching and releasing the drum grabs from the forks of the fork trucks, safety has been increased and production times reduced.
"From an initial site visit to assess our requirements Andy Bow from St Clare Engineering produced a written report on our problems and the solutions required to solve these issues and supplied a Quick Release 2-DTLR-WP double drum handler for us try out prior to purchasing.

"The trial period proved very successful with the product well received by the fork truck drivers as they could immediately see the benefits in safety and productivity.”
As Houghton Manchester already had a number of standard Grab-O-Matic double drum handler fork attachments, it only needed to purchase new Quick Release fork attachment frames as the new QR frames are compatible with standard Grab-O-Matic gripping heads and drum supports (pillars).

"The frames were manufactured bespoke to suit our fork trucks and we have been very impressed by the quick release drum handlers and the efficient service provided by St Clare,” adds Draper.

Houghton initially purchased two units and has since invested in two more along with additional Grab-O-Matics, the Crane Hoist Attachment (model QR-SC-1 which converts a fork lift into a crane with hook) an Automatic Scissor Grip Drum Handler (model SG-1) and a fork attachment drum rotation unit (model SC10) for dispensing the contents of a drum in a controlled manner.

How the QR System works
A Carriage Hook Plate is bolted to the centre of the fork truck carriage. This stays in place permanently as it does not interfere with the normal lifting and moving of pallets and is only 300mm wide.

The forks are inserted fully into the fork pockets and when raised a sprung loaded lever locks behind the Carriage Hook Plate and will only release when the unit is lowered to the ground. This reverses the action and the forks can be withdrawn from the unit.

This process eliminates the need for the fork truck driver to dismount from his cab to secure the drum grabs to the forks with either ‘T’ bolts or chains saving valuable time when switching attachments. The system is safer as it reduces the risk of accidents due to the ‘I can’t be bothered to get off and secure the unit to the forks syndrome’.
The Quick Release frames are universal with all current Grab-O-Matic pillars and gripping heads. This is a safe, secure and efficient way to attach the Grab-O-Matics to any fork truck. The only information required by St Clare when ordering is the size and type of carriage on the trucks and the length, width and thickness of the forks.
All of the Grab-O-Matic range of fork attachments can be manufactured using the Quick Release system, increasing safety and decreasing changeover times for attachments.

Bespoke items can also be made to suit to customer specifications in both powder coated steel and stainless steel for ATEX or pharmaceutical applications.