100 grams too much means over 100 Swiss francs in shipping fines. This was a thorn in the side of Nahrin's logisticians, and so the Swiss family-owned company not only banishes the danger of excessive postage costs with the new JumboFlex Weight-Control from Schmalz, but also spares its skilled workers during order picking.
Spices, vitamins, protein powders and more - Nahrin AG's range of food and nutritional supplements has grown immensely since the company was founded in 1954. In addition to the pure direct sales of kitchen products, the Swiss family-owned company has built up two other mainstays over time: Nahrin has been exporting its articles since 1982 and started private-label manufacturing in 1990. But it's not just bouillons, herbal salt or functional food that leave the company's headquarters in Sarnen, about 25 kilometers south of Lucerne - Nahrin has also been responsible for logistics for the Swiss company Anifit AG for 15 years.
Anifit has been producing species-appropriate dog and cat food since 2001. "In the picking and packing area for Anifit, four to five workers pack up to 600 packets per day," explains Bruno Berchtold, head of logistics at Nahrin. Individual feed sacks weigh between 15 and 25 kilograms, while the cartons ready for shipping may weigh a maximum of 30 kilograms. The fact that the packages sometimes exceeded the upper limit was not only at the expense of employees' back health, as Bruno Berchtold will explain later. "In the past, everything had to be carried and packed by hand. The particularly heavy sacks were then carried by two people. That cost energy and time that was lacking at the end of the day," Berchtold recounts.
To make the physically demanding work easier, Nahrin invested in a vacuum tube lifter from J. Schmalz GmbH about eight years ago. "The principle - lifting with vacuum - and the ergonomic handling were already convincing back then. However, the previous grippers reached their limits over time, especially when it came to lifting the particularly heavy and large cartons," says the logistics manager, reflecting on his predecessor's experience.
JumboFlex gives the green light
So at the beginning of 2021, Nahrin turned to Schmalz with two challenges: a more powerful gripper was needed, as well as a solution to reliably maintain the specified weight limit. "Every gram too much costs us money, because the Swiss postal service strictly enforces its specified kilo limits with high fines," Berchtold finally picks up on why weight control is so important to the company.
The vacuum experts recommended a product to Nahrin that was about to be launched on the market. They thus made the Swiss the first prototype customer for the JumboFlex Weight-Control. A load cell is integrated into the lifting unit, which measures the weight of the suspended load during the lifting process and shows it directly on a display on the operating handle. "We simply enter the maximum permissible weight. After gripping the carton, the packer guides the JumboFlex to its uppermost position, releases it briefly and can immediately see from the color of the light strip whether the package is too heavy. Then she has to distribute the contents over two shipping units," explains Berchtold.
The whole process takes only a few seconds and is absolutely accurate, according to the logistics provider. During installation, however, Nahrin had to pay attention to one thing: Since reading the weight is only possible in the uppermost position, the vacuum tube lifter had to be suspended in such a way that the skilled workers could easily reach the operating unit at all times. Since the ceilings in the Anifit order picking area are higher, Schmalz brought the JumboFlex to the correct height with a suspension.
A new gripper
There was also a change in terms of load handling equipment: the new multi-gripper reliably picks up cartons of different sizes. Thanks to additive manufacturing, it is particularly light and compact and also grips reliably when the carton is slightly smaller than the suction surface. Since only 75 percent of it needs to be occupied, packers can grip flexibly and always work ergonomically - without having to change the gripper for smaller cartons.
The JumboFlex Weight-Control has now been in use in Sarnen since April 2021. "The weight control worked accurately right from the start, and we haven't had to pay any fines since the new tube lifter has been in use," reports Berchtold. He says the system is flexible, efficient and easy to operate, which also speeds up workflows and increases process reliability. "The extrapolated 80,000 packets per year can thus be handled ergonomically without incurring unnecessary costs, wasting energy or time," concludes Bruno Berchtold.