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WHY FACTORY ERGONOMICS SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF YOUR LIST

Jessie Jefferson

Your factory workers are your income. How quickly they move, their mood, their physical abilities, all directly influence how much money your company will be making at the end of every work day. They are the most significant machinery you will ever invest in, and keeping them working smoothly and efficiently is just as important as the maintenance on your largest operations instruments. This is where factory ergonomics comes into play. Considering the daily physical impacts on your employees, are they well-oiled machines, or slowly withering from stress, overuse, and poor maintenance?

THE BENEFITS OF ERGONOMICS

Ergonomics is the study of how a person’s body interacts with its environment. In a factory setting, this can include tools, work stations, equipment, standard operational procedures, and the actual tasks involved in the job. A strong dedication to assembly ergonomics is the most influential step you can take towards improving your business practices. Here’s how:

  • Improved Productivity– By streamlining the work process of redundant or uncomfortable motions and positions, a task becomes more relaxed and simpler to complete. This results in harder, more efficient work by removing unnecessary stress on the body. Workload, visibility, and body movements all have a hefty impact on productivity, and should be factored into catering a task to the person completing it. This small adjustment will often result in more precise and waste free labor.
  • Cost Reduction– Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) are one of the leading causes for worker’s compensation claims. These MDS’s are often a direct result of over work, improper movement, and physical stress, and can result in high cost for a company if not prevented with factory ergonomics in mind. Immediate safety costs are important, but long term costs can often be much higher.
  • Improved Product Quality– Reducing physical and mental stress factors on the assembly line allows for more focused workers who can last longer on the job. If an employee is distracted by fatigue, pain, or mental distress caused by noise pollution or an overly turbulent environment, an important step in the production process could easily be over looked. Secure fastenings, even printing, straight cuts: these are the hallmarks of a high quality product.
  • High Employee Retention– Everyone will always choose to work for companies that take their needs into consideration. If you work hard for them, they’ll work hard for you for as long as they can. Utilizing factory ergonomics to provide your employees with a safe, easy to use work environment leads to a reduction in truancy and employee turnover and increased morale and involvement.
  • Safety Culture Creation– A commitment to assembly ergonomics creates a workplace environment that places worker safety as a top priority. When workers perform their tasks with safety in mind, their performance, mood, and company loyalty all see vast improvement. A solid safety culture empowers its people with the knowledge that each task is being completed with their welfare in mind.

TAKING THE ERGONOMIC STEP

After deeply considering the benefits of ergonomics in a factory setting, the next step towards increased employee health and safety is an easy one. Though many regard the implementation of assembly ergonomics as difficult, costly, and near impossible to measure, these road blocks can easily be turned into building blocks. Once the cost of maintenance is compared to the cost of repair, ergonomic benefits are unquestionable. You wouldn’t pause for a moment at a daily maintenance schedule for your factory equipment and machinery, so why not treat your most valuable tools with the same care and respect? Because when you put your people first, the entire company benefits.

 

INJURY PREVENTION TIPS FOR MANUFACTURERS

Jessie Jefferson

Injury prevention, especially in manufacturing, can be a daunting task that everyone needs to play a part in. It is a long-term effort that takes place at every level of the organization and encompasses everything from decision making to the behaviors of employees. The following are simple tips of measure that decision-makers can take to ensure that their workplace is safe, secure, and minimizes work related injuries and work related musculoskeletal disorders. These tips include:

1. Review Injury Records
First, review injury records and assess risks for immediate injuries, ergonomics concerns, and repetitive injury-prone areas.

2. Start an Ergonomics Committee
An ergonomics committee has been proven in many case studies sponsored by NIOSH and OSHA to be effective, prevent onsite ergonomics injuries, and be helpful for both businesses and workers.

3. Take Human Variability into Account
Attributes like age, gender, skill level, experience, and background bring with them many variations in how one works and what one needs.

4. Know Your PPE
Another factor each employer must take into account before production begins is the personal protective equipment (PPE). In order to properly identify what PPE needs a company has, one must evaluate what types of hazards are encountered on a day-to-day basis to determine how each piece of PPE is to be used.

5. Make Workplace Checklists
Before the day begins and ends, each employee and manager should look around their workstations and ensure that each one meets safety standards.

Checking off these five items in a place of business has been proven to reduce worker fatigue, time-off requests, medical problems, and leaves of absences. Learning more about workplace injuries is in everyone’s benefit.

FIVE STEPS TO CREATING AN ERGONOMIC WORKPLACE

Jessie Jefferson

Ergonomics aims to reduce and control risk factors and injuries caused by workplace related hazards such as: improper body postures, repetitive movements, material handling, vibration, force, mechanical compression and other elements. Below are five steps to help establish or enhance your company’s ergonomics’ strategies:

1. Think Big and Long Term – Efforts need to be planned and focused long term and on a global level. You need more than isolated short term projects and ergonomic assessments. You need cost-effective improvements that will reduce injury risk and boost productivity.

2. Educate and Train – Before acting, make sure everyone on the team is prepared for what’s coming. Engineers may need ergonomic design education, and employees may need training on work methods, body mechanics and using various equipment.

3. Be Proactive – Always Think Ergonomics – All new projects and processes should be designed with ergonomics in mind to keep costs lower and prevent previous efforts from becoming useless.

4. Measure Results – Results assessment will help you improve your effort continuously and ensure the desired returns on your investments. Track your progresses monthly and annually, and file reports carefully so that you have access to the information whenever necessary.

5. Learn from Your Mistakes and Improve – The reports and measurements recommended at the previous step will help you see what you did wrong and give you the chance to learn from those mistakes, avoid delays and focus on the methods and strategies that paid the best results.

Start Now!

The sooner you begin, the sooner your efforts will pay off. 

3 TRENDS IN MANUFACTURING ERGONOMICS

Jessie Jefferson

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), businesses spend upwards of $170 billion per year on costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses. Ergonomics, the science of designing workplaces that fit their workers, cuts down on these costs by keeping employees safe, healthy and efficient. Engineers and plant managers, keep these trends in mind as the science of ergonomics evolves:

  1. Automation strategies. Airbus, a leading aircraft manufacturer, is leveraging automation to increase production of its popular A320 airplane. The project aims to use dual-arm robots to reduce human interaction, decrease acquisition costs and enhance ergonomic performance.
  2. Exoskeletal systems. Audi, a top German automobile manufacturer, has made headlines lately with its “chairless chair,” a carbon-fiber exoskeleton that can be worn by employees as they work. The chair is worn like a second pair of legs to provide extra support and allow employees to sit comfortably nearly anywhere instead of standing.
  3. Anti-fatigue mats.The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that “common aches and pains” due to long periods of standing cost American employers $60+ billion per year. Anti-fatigue mats improve workplace efficiency by providing a comfortable, supportive place for an employee to stand, which is especially crucial in industrial environments.

It’s important to be proactive instead of reactive to ergonomics in the workplace. Implement ergonomic workstations now to cut down on costs associated with workplace injury or illness later – and keep your employees safe and healthy in the process.

 

ASG TORQUE ARM POSITIONING SYSTEM

Jessie Jefferson

The new Linear Torque Arm Positioning System from ASG is intuitive and user friendly thanks to it’s HMI Error-Proofing Package.

Features:

  • memory holds up to 500 sequences
  • 7″ wide LCD touchscreen makes for easy set up
  • provides a visual aid using images or CAD drawings to the operator
  • delivers value and flexibility by supporting up to 4 encoders on a variety of different torque arm styles
  • error-proofs the assembly process ensuring the correct sequence with no missed fasteners
  • allows integration of line control & communication with digital I/O


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TORQUE & TAPPING ARTICULATING ARMS

Jessie Jefferson

 

Improve your electric or pneumatic screwdriver’s torque repeatibility. Fixing the tool in a precision arm results in consistent tool position and the same amount of grip force on the tool for every cycle, minimizing operator induced variables.

Torque & tapping reaction arms provide an ergonomic solution to:

  • torque reaction & weight
  • repetitive motion problems
  • proper tool alignment
  • protecting workers from injuries
  • maximizing production

The Tool House offers a full range of torque & tapping reaction arms from brands such as ClecoETAKolverDelta Regis and Titanlite.

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ZERO GRAVITY TOOL BALANCERS – DECREASE INJURY AND INCREASE PRODUCTION

Jessie Jefferson

Looking for ways to reduce worker fatigue and increase productivity while maintaining an ergonomic work environment? Tool balancers could be your solution! Choosing the right tool balancer is important and there are many options available, so we understand that it can be overwhelming.

Some tool balancer models are supported by coil springs, while others use telescopic arms to keep tools in place. Some have different features that prevent tools from being loaded incorrectly or prevent tangling. It is necessary for businesses to look closely at specifications for these types of tool balancers to understand what range of motion or three dimensional space they will support.

Tool Support Arms
Tool support arms are a particular type of tool balancer system that uses well-crafted adjustable pieces to hold tools in place, either in operation or for storage. These types of systems offer “true linear and parallel alignment” for tools. They also provide ergonomic support, as well as preventing the fastener alignment errors that can occur with some other kinds of tool holders. By moving a tool in three-dimensional space, these arms relieve the pressure from the worker’s limb, and the weight load from the operator’s wrist, providing physical support through an entire range of motion. As the worker operates the tool in three-dimensional space, the telescopic arm provides the torque to propel the hand and the tool to a particular destination. These products must be designed for durability and ease of use — they can’t jam up during operation or break down in any way. Many models provide for either tabletop or wall mounting, while others are mounted on a ceiling. Regardless, mounting systems have to be straightforward and resistant to both wear and error.

Zero Gravity Tool Balancers
Zero gravity tool balancers are innovative models that essentially allow tools to hang in the air wherever they are left when the worker’s hand is removed from them. One way to think of the zero gravity support is that it offers the worker a type of environment where he or she is going to encounter a tool exactly where it was discarded, every time. Another way to think about it is that, with no gravitational force acting on the tool, it’s going to be “inert” when it’s not being moved around by a human operator. The productivity benefits of this kind of design are evident. Instead of searching for a tool on a table top or in a rack system, the worker is going to intuitively know where tools are, because they will be hanging suspended from the tool balancer, exactly where they were left. Zero gravity systems effectively eliminate many small tasks, for instance:

  • Setting a tool down on the tabletop
  • Enclosing a tool in a protective case, or wrapping it with cloth
  • Balancing a tool on its side, top or bottom
  • Bringing a tool near to a particular surface in a workspace
  • Implementing an additional range of motion with the tool in hand

The Tool House has you covered.

We offer a variety of tool support arms and zero gravity tool balancers for your manufacturing needs. We help businesses protect both their people and their tools.

Contact us today. Our experienced sales engineers can guide you in the right direction.

ERGONOMIC LIFT TABLES BY SOUTHWORTH & VESTIL

Jessie Jefferson

We are proud to welcome Southworth and Vestil Lift Tables to our line of industrial ergonomic solutions!

Some typical Lift Table applications include:

  • machine feeding and offloading
  • product assembly
  • inspection
  • quality control
  • repair
  • feeding and offloading conveyors

One of the most important factors when purchasing material handling equipment is safety. Lift tables are proven to increase productivity and keep employees safe and healthy for years to come.

The Tool House is a proud and authorized distributor for Southworth & Vestil. If you need assistance with Lift Tables, send us a message or give us a call at (800)-829-4174. Our expert engineers would be happy to assist you.

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7 STEPS TO AN ERGONOMIC WORKSPACE

Jessie Jefferson

Did you know that working at the wrong height can have disastrous effects on your employees’ comfort, efficiency and productivity?

Working too high (above heart level) reduces blood circulation and oxygen supply, while work that requires hunching over or frequent bending is both uncomfortable and inefficient.

Simple action items include:

  • Setting the proper work height
  • Optimizing lighting and reach zones
  • Standardizing workspace rules

The Tool House offers a variety of Ergonomic Tools and workplace solutions; contact us today!