How One Manufacturing Company Increased Productivity by 400%

posted on: Tuesday January 12, 2016

A case study of how manual material handling equipment saved one manufacturing company money and boosted productivity.

XtremelargeMobile equipment and carts are used in many industries from manufacturing to healthcare. They’re designed to make life easier and work leaner, especially for pushing and pulling tasks. Darcor released a white paper that discussed in detail the ergonomics as well as factors affecting one’s ability to perform pushing and pulling tasks. “The Ergonomics of Manual Material Handling” includes an eye-opening case study on how one company made improvements that led to a 400% increase in productivity in terms of labor-hours.

The company was Applied Materials, manufacturers of silicon chip processing equipment. The problem that ergonomics engineers set out to solve was that it took four workers to move equipment that weighed up to 7,000 pounds. This happened ten to fourteen times a day, seven days a week. The risk of error and injuries was high during this process; not only was this a difficult task, but also two technicians had to abandon their regular duties to assist with the move. This greatly affected productivity and workflow.

Other pushing and pulling tasks were also noted as needing improvements, even where equipment was already being used. Pallet jacks were used in 10% of the manufacturing lines, but they didn’t perform as intended or have enough of the safety features the company needed. The ergonomics engineers set out to develop a system based on low push force requirements, safety, and ergonomics.

Their solution was a modified pallet jack called a tugger. Ergonomics Engineering Supervisor Jon Paulsen said, “We tested six dolly and caster designs and learned that not all casters are equal. After four design iterations, we arrived at the new dolly and tugger design based on ergonomics, safety, usability on all system types and configurations, product damage avoidance, and cost. In the end, we were able to reduce the number of technicians needed to push a system by 50%, leaving the others to attend to their designated work without disruption.”

Paulsen credited advancements in caster technology for the incredible 60 pound push force achieved for a 7,000 pound piece of equipment. In addition to the time study-proven 400% increase in man-hour productivity, no injuries related to the task had been reported at the time the article was published, which was a year later.

This is one great example of how a tugger system can make drastic improvements in pushing and pulling tasks. Load Mover, Inc. understands caster technology, push force, and other factors that affect your employees’ ability to push and pull safely and effectively. Connect with us to discuss the best tugger system for you: 952-767-1720 or