JSYK, better known by its former name “Dänisches Bettenlager,” wants its customers to feel good. This caused backache for the employees in the logistics warehouse – when picking the heavy and sometimes unwieldy furniture packages. To support the logisticians in the sprawling warehouse, the company was looking for an ergonomic lifting aid that would relieve the strain where a table or cabinet just needed to be loaded.
Goliath is a real heavyweight: the fully assembled dining table weighs over 70 kilograms and can be sent directly from the JYSK Group warehouse to the customer, divided into two packages. Depending on the delivery address, this is done under the supervision of Bastian Böhm. As Operations Manager, he plans, manages and controls the processes at the JYSK logistics center in Homberg/Efze. “We supply the entire center of Germany, in fact everything that is geographically close by,” explains Böhm. Two further distribution centers in Kammlach and Zarrentin am Schaalsee are responsible for southern and northern Germany. From here, the furniture is transported to the stores and online stores of the Danish furnishing house.
JYSK Group operates over 3,000 stores in 50 countries worldwide. Founded in 1979, the company has been represented in Germany since 1984 – at that time still under the name Dänisches Bettenlager. The name change to JYSK took place in the fall of 2021. The rebranding not only refreshes the logo, but is also reflected in the assortment and the newly designed online stores: more Scandinavian living flair, which is considered modern, minimalist, reduced and flexible. Directly translated, ‘Jysk’ refers to the inhabitants of the Danish peninsula of Jutland.
Unhandy and heavy
Up to 325 pieces of furniture, packed in cartons, leave the Homberg warehouse every day. “Some of them are unwieldy and heavy, measuring up to two meters in length,” comments Böhm, adding, “Often, a second employee had to interrupt their current job to help with the lifting.” Despite the mutual support, the packers noticed the physical strain: severe back pain and exhaustion at the end of the work week were the most common complaints.
“Our representative for severely disabled employees, Hans-Christian Hessler, finally approached the management and thus initiated the change,” Böhm recounts. Hans-Christian Hessler then contacted J. Schmalz GmbH for advice. “We needed a device that would allow our packer to ergonomically lift the crates weighing up to 40 kilograms onto the pallets. Since our storage area, where the lifting aid is to be used, covers about 8,000 square meters, a permanently installed solution was out of the question,” says Böhm, summarizing the requirements. The rather low ceiling height added to the difficulty.
“The special feature of this order was that the tube lifter should be brought to the goods in each case and not vice versa,” says Michael Schlaich, project manager for handling systems at J. Schmalz GmbH. Since last year, the Glatten-based vacuum expert has had a mobile solution for this: the JumboFlex Picker.
The system can be picked up with the forks of the existing ants and moved to the heavy furniture boxes. The control system and vacuum generator are located in the basic module, as is the power supply. Thus, the picker remains self-sufficient and is flexible in use.
The articulated boom from which the vacuum tube lifter is suspended is mounted on an electrically height-adjustable lifting column. This means that there is no risk of the boom catching on the concrete girders of the hall ceiling or on the sprinkler system during transport or use. “Everything went as requested, right down to the special length of the forks, which Schmalz made individually for our model,” reports Böhm, anticipating the question about the cooperation with Schmalz, which he describes as very good and problem-free.
Tube lifter to go
In June 2021, the mobile tube lifter arrived in Homberg. It is the first lard product to be used in the logistics warehouse there. It ideally complements another ergonomic solution already in place: “Our ants are designed with spring-loaded footboards to increase comfort and protect the intervertebral discs,” explains Böhm briefly. For the employees in the goods issue department, the JumboFlex Picker is an asset that they initially had to be convinced of. “It was quite an adjustment for the packers,” Böhm reports. “They thought they would work slower with the lifting aid than without it.”
To counteract this purely subjective impression, Böhm pushed the vacuum tube lifter into the hands of his employees and suggested a few days of testing. “After a while, they then found that the process was just as fast and straightforward as the operation of the JumboFlex itself,” says Böhm, summarizing the packers’ experience. Since then, one employee per shift has been on duty and can effortlessly load any required piece of furniture onto the pallet.
Schmalz recommended the multi-gripper as the load receptor, as it securely holds the different sized and heavy cartons at the push of a button. The JumboFlex Picker is in non-stop use during shifts, as employees now use it for all other packages as well – regardless of size and weight.
Between the two shifts, there is a half-hour break, during which the battery is recharged. “That gets us through the entire workday just fine,” explains Böhm. The lead-acid battery is then fully charged overnight.
Bastian Böhm comes back to the cooperation with Schmalz: “We were taken seriously, and our contact person always had an open ear for our special requests.” Despite initial skepticism, the feedback from warehouse employees is also positive: The more back-friendly work is clearly noticeable in the evening – through less exhaustion and pain.