Don't Be Square - Go Round

In a recent meeting, a member of the WPG Sales Team mentioned that there had been quite a few inquiries lately regarding the merits of many round vacuum pads on a vacuum lifter, as compared to fewer square or rectangular vacuum pads. During the discussion that followed, Powr-Grip's Don Hayes composed this response: Some things are just meant to be round:
  • The Wheel has been around since about 3500 B.C. 5500 years of round can't be all wrong. Still round and still the best after all these years.
  • The Earth. At least since 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, round has been right. Still round and still the best after all these years.
  • The Ball. James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. Still round and still the best after all of these years. Just try to dribble a box.
  • The Suction Cup. God invented the original suction cup - the suckers on the arms of an octopus. They are round baby, round! Still round and still the best after all these years.oct
  • The Powr-Grip Vacuum Cup. Invented by Howard Wood in 1964. Still round and still the best around after all these years. Don't accept anything less.
Although his ideas were clever and poignant, I realized that perhaps these weren't quite the issues that affect users of our products. So here's my take on the subject! Versatility Perhaps the most significant difference between round and square or rectangular pads on a vacuum lifter is versatility. If you are lifting a load with a vacuum lifter that has, say, 10 round vacuum pads, but the lifter is larger than the load material, you can selectively shut off the unneeded pads and still maintain the vacuum needed to lift the load. With square or rectangular pads, say, in a configuration of 4 pads, if the pads do not fit the load, you may lose as much as half of your lifting capacity. In the same vein, if you are lifting a load that is irregularly shaped or has cutouts, such as a stone countertop, a vacuum lifter with many smaller, round pads affords you the ability to shut off those pads not in contact with the load and make the lift. Under similar conditions, square- or rectangular-pad vacuum lifters could be rendered useless because of their inability to span the surface voids. Vacuum lifters with many round vacuum pads can often be reconfigured, giving the user the ability to install or remove extension arms to suit the size and weight of the load. This enables rapid reconfiguration for switching from one application to another, without the need for a different lifter. Productivity is enhanced and higher profits are realized. Connectivity pegIt's not just the Internet - connectivity can take you a long way - or lack thereof can cause enormous problems. That's why a greater number of round vacuum pads can be a good thing. In vacuum lifter terms, a larger number of smaller, round vacuum pads will connect to the material being lifted much more quickly than fewer large, unwieldy square or rectangular pads. The air under a smaller pad vacates much more quickly, allowing the vacuum lifter to attach faster, speeding the lifting process and, again, improving productivity. Remember the money thing, and higher profits - there ya go. And when it comes to lifting a load that flexes in the middle, which would you rather have? Four square points of contact, two at each end, or 16 round points of contact spread across the length of the material? Multiple round pads support the material better, helping to prevent deformation or breakage. Smaller, round pads also have the added benefit of fitting more readily between the ribs on materials like metal panels. Lifting materials with tightly spaced ridges becomes problematic with square pads that are too large to fit between the raised areas on the surface. The ability to attach to a variety of materials under a variety of circumstances places a big check mark in the plus column of vacuum lifters equipped with smaller, round vacuum pads. Versatility and connectivity - what more could you ask for? Safety If you are lifting a material such as glass with a 3 or 4 square pads on a vacuum lifter, and one of the pads is compromised, you will lose 25% to 33% of your lifting capacity. Lifting glass with a 6- or 8-pad WPG vacuum lifter proves to be the preferred solution in this scenario. Even if one pad is compromised, the remaining pads offer enough horse power to make the lift and get the job done. If there is a leak under one of the pads, the additional pads provide enough capacity for the operator to safely lower the load. This serves to protect the material that is being lifted but, more importantly, helps to keep the lifter operator and others on the job site safe. While round vacuum pads and square vacuum pads of a similar size have virtually the same capacity, the versatility, connectivity and safety of lifters with smaller, round pads is superior. To find the right solution for your lifting needs, feel free to contact us. See you A ROUND!