Materials in Motion

The Spanco Solution

Swanson Health Products (SHP) is a nationwide manufacturer and supplier of vitamins, supplements, and natural health care products. Their headquarters, located in Fargo, North Dakota, is a large facility that houses their manufacturing process, along with shipping operations and offices for their e-commerce website and mail-order catalogs. In 2010, Swanson Health Products decided to open a new distribution facility to serve as a fulfillment center to expedite the transit time on orders shipped to customers on the East Coast. The 50,000-square-foot facility is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and has successfully eliminated several days of transit time on east coast orders.

In 2013, the Harrisburg distribution center began searching for a material handling solution to streamline their shipping process and create a safer, more efficient workflow.
With limited floor space in the facility, SHP turned to local Spanco dealer Arnold Machinery to purchase and install an overhead crane system for their application.

SHP’s previous shipping operation included multiple forklifts transporting materials from one area in their facility to another. The forklifts became increasingly cumbersome and expensive to manage. They needed a system that was ergonomic and required no floor space in their facility. They also needed a system that was flexible enough to incorporate into their shipping operations and one that workers could operate quickly and safely without impeding product flow.

After visiting the facility, Arnold Machinery suggested a Ceiling-Mounted Workstation Bridge Crane from Spanco. The system needed to extend past the runway on each side to pick up loads and place them on skidders from the aisles. To accommodate their needs, engineers at Spanco designed a dual telescoping bridge, which reaches an additional 10 feet in either direction.

This setup requires two workers, one worker to hold the bridge from telescoping with a nylon rope and one to pull the load. An SHP employee explained, “The telescope is very smooth. The trolley glides effortlessly when we move it, but remains motionless once we stop. It’s really impressive.”

The 1,000-pound capacity bridge crane spans 32 feet, with a 34-foot long bridge. The telescope section extends the maximum length of the bridge by 10 feet in both directions.
The 104-foot long runway provides extensive coverage to accommodate multiple work areas and includes 4-foot cantilevers on both ends.

The ceiling mounted workstation bridge crane allows workers to transport materials on the X- and Y-axis from one end of their facility to another. The cantilevers extend runway coverage an additional four feet on each end, and the telescope section extends bridge coverage an additional 10 feet on each end. With both sections of the system designed to reach beyond work areas and into aisles and other stations, workers are equipped to handle loads up to 1,000 pounds from any position within their shipping area.

The new overhead crane system from Spanco has maximized their total coverage and created a viable and effective material handling solution that supports their unique operation and streamlines productivity. According to SHP, the ceiling-mounted workstation bridge crane has dramatically decreased the number of workers needed to lift and transport materials and increased their coverage area ten times over. For SHP’s Harrisburg facility, productivity has never been easier!