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  1. Vaculex
15 October 2009

TNT Express Uses Vaculex TP Vacuum Tube Lift System

TNT Express is a noted world leader in global delivery and logistics services. TNT Express is a division of the Dutch company TNT, and has a presence in more than 200 countries.

The working operation focuses on the sorting of parcels to specific zip codes – which involved frequent lifts below knee and above shoulder level. The majority of the parcels weigh 3kg-12kg (6.6lb-26.4lb) with a maximum weight of 35kg (77lb). The manual sorting takes on average 15s per parcel.

TNT had situations with injuries due to manual lifting with the associated sick leave and rehabilitation costs. As part of a worldwide health and safety programme, the challenge was to find a lifting aid that maintained or increased speed and productivity during lifts. The lifting aid should be able to handle 75% of the parcels. The solution also had to be user-friendly and adaptable to both left and right handed persons.

The optimum solution was in the form of the unique Vaculex TP vacuum tube lift system. After installing several Vaculex TP units, injuries were reduced to a minimum. The vacuum tube lifts maintained or increased speed and productivity as parcels became weightless and easier to handle, no matter what size or shape. Vaculex TP proved able to handle 99% of the parcels with ease.

As Thomas Engman, operations manager at TNT, Sweden, observes, “Vaculex was the only contractor that could offer a lifting system where the usage didn’t decrease productivity. The cooperation worked out very well and afterwards we can certify that the lifts are working even better than we had hoped for. TP is very easy to operate and only a short instruction is needed for beginners. The ergonomic benefits of TP also involve economic benefits due to cut down sick leave and lower rehabilitation costs, which in turn will make it easier to attract and maintain qualified staff.”

To help TNT in the decision-making process of the investment in lifting aids for express parcel handling, Vaculex and TNT commissioned an independent company – Xdin – to make an ergonomic study of the existing manual lifts in comparison with lifts with Vaculex TP. The task was to see how much the TP could decrease the risk of injury.

A total ergonomic analysis of the working process at TNT for express parcel handling was a major project, and concentrated on the lower back, which is the most common area for backache. The analysis was made according to the guidelines of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, USA (NIOSH). This format gives information about various workplace safety and health concerns. The analysis was performed with software from EDS called VisJack®, which works through a digital human being that performs all the tasks and movements of a real person, and the proven notable result was that TNT would decrease the risk of injuries by 41%. This project was a tangible and measurable success for the Vaculex concept.

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