Every industry from healthcare to manufacturing requires some heavy pushing and pulling. The science behind ergonomic alternatives to these tasks involves many factors. In 2001, Darcor put out a manual that covers these factors in great detail. Its purpose is to help companies choose equipment that best meets their needs. The manual also includes a case study on how ergonomics engineers improved the task of moving heavy equipment. What is interesting about their findings is that one product used today actually includes most of the features specified in the manual: the powered tug.
The Case Study
Applied Materials manufactures silicon chip processing equipment. Here they have equipment weighing 7,000 pounds that needs to be moved 10-14 times a day 7 days a week. It took four people to move one piece. This system not only posed a risk of injury to workers, it also disrupted production and work flow. Ergonomics engineers set out to find a better way to move this equipment.
After finding that powered pallet jacks were not safe or useful enough, the engineers experimented with dolly and caster designs. They modified an electric pallet jack to create a “tugger.” The parameters for designing the perfect tugger were: ergonomics, usability, safety, product damage avoidance, and cost. After several attempts, the engineers found success. They were able to reach the incredible achievement of reducing the push force, distributed between two employees, to 60 pounds. As a result, they increased productivity by almost 400%. Over a year after the new system was in place, no injuries had been reported that were related to moving the equipment.
The manual examines the ergonomics of pushing and pulling as well as how to design push/pull tasks. Everything from resistance to body mechanics is covered. Product specifications to consider include: size and quality of the wheels, swivel arc, weight distribution, load capability, handle location, and safety features. Every pushing and pulling task is designed to fit the capabilities of a smaller female worker. If the product can be safely and easily used by this worker, it will surely be a fit for most women and men.
The manual is over a decade old. The ergonomics of these tasks have not changed over time; however, equipment modeling the early tugger have expanded greatly in their applications. While specific pushing and pulling tasks differ, the powered tugs of today are a great fit in nearly any industry or environment that requires laborious pushing and pulling tasks.
Companies like Load Movers Inc. offer products that have the specifications outlined in the manual. Their products are built to safely tug 1,000 to 50,000 pounds. The Load Movers maneuver easily through awkward turns, have height-adjustable handles, and have the best safety features on the market. Additionally, Load Movers take up minimal space. They are designed to easily be used by anyone in any industry.
The success of the tugger in the case study is impressive. The product considerations in the manual are influenced by so many factors that it may have seemed unlikely that one product would be a fit for so many jobs. However, researching the powered tugs of today shows that one product really can overcome the obstacles of pushing and pulling. When you see reports that a tug increased productivity by almost 400%, this powerful little product is something to get excited about. For more information on Load Movers, visit http://www.loadmoverinc.com/.