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Destacking I-Beams

Destacking I-Beams

Destacking I-Beams


Hi fellow engineers,

We're looking for the operators to not lift more than 35 pounds at any given time in our production factory, I'm designing a a mechanism/method where I can place this bundle of I-Beams on a set of conveyor rollers or gravity rollers, then having a mechanism (pneumatic cylinder) that pushes an I-Beam one by one (the bottom one first, two needed to work on workcenter) for the operator to not do this operation himself, any idea of what method I can use?

Throwing some ideas out there depalletizer, destacker, etc. But how?

Please help me out.

RE: Destacking I-Beams

"... the bottom one first" !? (you're gonna need to explain this better)

Turn the bundle over and take from the top, or maybe just take from the top.

RE: Destacking I-Beams

You're going to need a long table by the look of it. Those beams are stacked with their flanges interlocked - which means you will need to push/pull along the full length of the beam. One at a time. Probably be easiest to use a lifting mechanism to get the top layer to the height of the conveyor, another to push off the top layer one at a time (either left-to-right or right-to-left), then bump the lifter to get the next layer, and so on.

As another option - use a couple of equally-spaced magnets that can swing from the beam pile to the conveyor. Pick up a beam (magnetically), move it over, then disconnect the magnet. Best bet is electromagnets, of course - just like the ones used in a junkyard to move cars, only smaller.

Converting energy to motion for more than half a century

RE: Destacking I-Beams

What do you do when the upper beams fall as you remove the bottom beams?


RE: Destacking I-Beams

Sounds like you are saying you would lift the entire pile and drop a single beam at a time. This sounds like a very challenging approach. Not unachievable with the right infrastructure, but maybe not the path of least resistance.

Edit: assuming you could lift from the ends exclusively, I can picture a cog system that lifts and then ratchets to the next row up as you start dropping the beams.


"If there's something in life you don't like, change it and deal with the consequences." - James Tanton

RE: Destacking I-Beams

The idea is to slide through conveyor rollers one beam one at a time, two are needed for a build.

If I have a pneumatic cylinder to push one beam at a time, starting from the top, what kind of mechanism can I use to lower the cylinder between rows?

RE: Destacking I-Beams

just place the stack such that the bottom is aligned with the conveyor rollers. start pushing beams from the top and let them drop onto the rollers.

or build a scissor jack type table to place the beam stack on, and incrementally raise the table after each row of beams is pushed off the top of the stack.

RE: Destacking I-Beams

Build a rack to contain the stack of beams on a scissor lift platform.
Place the stack in the rack and then cut the bands.
Have the operator attach a gripper on a cable to a beam and then he activates the pulling mechanism (winch or cylinder).
Since their positions are staggered it would be very difficult to have a cylinder know where to push to get the next beam.
Once you have used a layer just raise the platform and repeat.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: Destacking I-Beams

First suggestion - ask the folks who do this now how they would like to do it and then engineer that.

Otherwise -

How much does a bundle weigh?

Buy a lift table

Pushing a beam off would require a very long cylinder - you probably need to pull the beams with some type of winch.

Better would be to get some overhead lifting capability (gantry or bridge crane) and make a pick with a dedicated fixture for this job.

RE: Destacking I-Beams

Why not use a jib crane?

RE: Destacking I-Beams

What do you guys think of this cart design?

Then having some kind of hook mechanism that can be attached to the working fixture, what type of mechanism you guys think I could use to start sliding the beams on top of the stack?

Any recommendations input on the design would be greatly appreciated!

RE: Destacking I-Beams

Guess I missed the dimensions of the I-beam. Photo makes it look much bigger than your cart depicts. Or else that's a huge cart. LOL

The tag hanging on the end should have clued me in.


"If there's something in life you don't like, change it and deal with the consequences." - James Tanton

RE: Destacking I-Beams

The cart could use some bracing and close off the tube ends.

RE: Destacking I-Beams

Does the supplier who provides them in these stacks have any suggestions?

RE: Destacking I-Beams

I've twisted the idea and was thinking about having a jib-crane low rise mechanism which moves on a v-track guide using wheels, my question is, will the beam be able to support a 70 lbf pull? (That's what the average pull force measurement of the parts will be).

Also, what type of mechanism on a wire rope can I use to attach it to the edges of the beams using a plate clamp? Any ideas suggestions?

RE: Destacking I-Beams

We often move W beams like this with magnets, though I'm not sure how big your beams are. Pushing the beams calls for other issues, friction, snagging, screeching etc.
If the stack is close to the saw, you could have a track mounted on two arms which would lower and activate the magnets. Lift and push the beam away. This is just the beginning of an idea, needs a lot more development.
However! Magnets are definitely NOT plug and play! If dirt / rust gets in between magnet and beam, or web thickness is not sufficiently thick to engage magnet, or magnet was not engaged properly, your product could drop catastrophically.
But, with care, we do this often, always with ‘staying clear’ in mind.

RE: Destacking I-Beams

At the boatyard, we have a 1/2 ton chainfall on a trolley and a chain that has a ring in the middle and a hook on each end to pick and move the steel. Once you pick it, it's not hard to move with the trolley. I expect with a crane that has a rotating beam you could use a chainfall or hoist on a trolley and put the center of the beam anywhere within the sweep of the crane.

One thing to keep in mind is that once the CG of the beam slides off the stack, the unsupported end will drop and the end on the stack will rotate up.

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