Skip to content

Mechanical Vs. Manual Handling In The Glass & Glazing Industry

Here is a short piece of information on why it is important to use lifting aids instead of manual handling in the glass and glazing industry.

Glass has a long history of over 3,500 years and the demand for it today is at an all-time high with architects using large units as finishing touches to their projects. This can present a challenge to installers when manoeuvring large glazing units into position.

As many of you will already be aware an employer’s workforce is the main and most important asset a company will ever have. Every year 300,000 people in the UK suffer from back pain due to manual handling accidents. Why would you put your staff at risk of injury when you really don’t need to?

Mechanical lifting aids such as glazing robots offer installers a safer and more productive way of installing large glazing units, but are they the right choice for your business? To help answer this, let’s first explore some of the benefits and drawbacks of mechanical glass lifting equipment.

A Smartlift glazing robot doing some heavy lifting.

Benefits of Mechanical Glass Lifting Equipment

  • Minimizes the risk of injury to employees – Using a lifting aid will minimize manual handling on any project keeping employees safe. Lifting aids were invented to allow individuals to move an object from one place to another without having to put strain on the human body.
  • Less manpower in one location – Using a lifting aid requires much less manpower than manual handling, allowing your employees to work on other projects. For example, a team of window fitters on site is usually a five man team. By switching to the use of a glazing robot, this can be narrowed down to just two people; one machine operator and an installer.
  • Cost efficient – Less manpower equals more profit on any given project. For an employer hiring three labourers to work on site would be a minimum of £100 per day per person. This doesn’t include your own installation costs or how your workforce travelled to and from site. Breaking this down, three labourers is £300 per day, totalling £1,500 per week based off a five day working week. This equates to £6,000 per month, or £72,000 per year. You can see from these figures that a glass lifting robot has the potential to achieve a return on investment in a short space of time.

Drawbacks of Mechanical Glass Lifting Equipment

  • Servicing and repairs – For many it’s the dreaded car MOT all over again but a small price to pay for health and safety in the workplace. Having said that, if you look affter your equipment and have it serviced regularly, this can help to reduce the potential impact of any future repair costs. By looking after your machine, you will reduce the potential for damage and regular servicing and inspections will help to catch any problems that you may not have noticed before further damage is done.
  • Machine limitations – Today, there are many mechanical glass lifting aids you choose from. This has resulted in a wide range of models with different lifting capacities and other important factors such as whether they are intended for indoor or outdoor use. When buying/renting any lifting equipment, you should always ask for advice to make sure it is adequate for your own intended use. Always check the safe working load (SWL) of your chosen model to ensure it meets your requirements, and be sure to check the dimensions of the machine to ensure it can be safely manouvered at the sites you intend to work on.


Whether or not a mechanical glass lifting aid is suitable for your business can be determined by a range of factors. From the benefits and drawbacks listed above, you can clearly see how a glazing robot might add value to your business. Improved site safety and a fast return on investment are often the most important factors influencing a decision to invest in such machinery.

Although there are some drawbacks of mechanical glass lifting equipment, many of these can be mitigated by looking after your equipment correctly and ensuring you invest in the right type of equipment from the outset.

If you are looking for any advice on choosing the right Smartlift glazing robot for your needs, or have a query on general maintenance, servicing or repairs, then please call our experts on 01977 643 595 or email us at

Further guidance on the safe use of vacuum lifting equipment can be found on the HSE website here.

Our Blog