Are You Wasting Valuable Time Pushing and Pulling?

posted on: Thursday March 21, 2013

From the warehouse to the hospital, pushing and pulling is a requirement of a number of jobs.  Do a quick search of physical requirements of manual material handling (MMH) jobs, and you’ll return a DSC_6717lot of phrases like, “Heavy pushing and pulling,” and “Extensive periods of pushing and pulling.”  We know this is a necessary requirement to get items from point A to B; the question is how much of this task is unnecessary?

There are three basic factors that initially or eventually slow down an operation involving these tasks. They result in less productivity, more work in progress (WIP), and higher risk of injury. Depending on the environment, these factors will most likely be: number of people required, number of trips required, and fatigue-affected efficiency of moving a load.

Lost Man Hours

The pushing and pulling limits for one person vary by industry and job. Looking at ergonomic guidelines, average pushing limits look something like: 75 pounds initial force and 50 pounds sustained for men, and 50 pounds initial force and 30 sustained for women. The forces are even less for pulling. The amount of force required is determined by more than just weight – resistance of movement by floor surface and wheels factor in, also. So depending on the job, added manpower may be required to move an object over 50 pounds. For a lot of manual handlers, this is a pretty small load. It may be more accurate to say that 2 or more people aren’t recruited to move an object until it weighs three or four times that, and in some cases, much more. No matter the situation, when more than one person is needed to push or pull something, it takes valuable time away from other job tasks. If it happens throughout a shift, man hours are continually lost to just one part of the process.

Too Many Trips

No matter what the push/pull limits are, only so much weight can physically be pushed around at one time. An operation can get backed up because of this, especially when loading and unloading a truck or storage area. It isn’t common that 10 people are paid to just wheel load after load around a warehouse to keep things moving. One or two bins, carts, beds, or other structures at a time make their way to their end points. Here again, a number of other factors can slow down that process. If the surface of the floor changes or the path includes awkward, tight turns, a load has to slow or stop. Safety may also slow down the process depending on the traffic flow and other machinery or equipment being used.

Forklifts are used in many facilities to get a lot of product moved in one trip, but even they have their limits. Lift trucks will still topple if the load is too heavy. Visibility affects pace as do safe speed limits. Additionally, not everyone is licensed to drive a forklift. Just because a forklift is available doesn’t mean it can be operated. Ultimately, many hours can be wasted just getting everything moved to where it needs to go.


Every human body requires rest. The most physically fit person still has a limit on how much he or she can exert in one day. Pushing and pulling throughout a shift, even if only 50 pounds, wears a body out. Initial force, however, is going to push the limits faster than sustained force. The chemical process for a short burst of energy is different from that of sustained activity. One energy source is active for this initial 5-10 second push; other energy sources become active after that. Muscle contractions cannot happen without ATP – a source we get from the food we eat. Initial power relies on stored ATP for energy. If ATP is depleted faster than it is restored, the body physically cannot exert power.

There are a couple of reasons a person may have to use a lot of initial force in one shift. The first is the number of loads he or she has to make in one day. The second is how many times he or she has to stop that load before it gets to its final destination. As stated before, a change in floor surface or awkward, tight turns will force the handler to slow momentum or stop completely. A person may have to exert initial force on his or her object several times just to get it around a corner. By the end of a shift, a person who is worn out – even if not extremely so – will take longer to complete any task.

How to Fix it

There is one piece of equipment that solves all of these problems. Load Movers are battery-powered tugs designed to push and pull anything from 1,000 to 50,000 pounds. These are safe, ergonomically-sound tugs that save time and energy, therefore boosting productivity and reducing WIP. They can be designed to fit any attachment, so as long as a load is on wheels, the tug will do its job. One of the greatest benefits of the Load Mover is that several carts can be hooked together like a train. This allows exponentially more product to be moved in one trip. Its fifth wheel swivels so that it can maneuver those awkward, tight turns. Loads stay low to the ground, so visibility it optimal. The Load Mover is so powerful that only one person is needed to use it, and he or she doesn’t need a license to operate it.

Powered tugs are being used to save time, boost productivity, and reduce injuries in countless industries. Its applications are so versatile that even the Load Mover founders are regularly surprised by the jobs their tugs are used for. To improve your pushing and pulling operations, visit the Load Mover Inc. website or Facebook page  and see how their powered tugs can benefit your business.