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At Ergotronix, we find that the ergonomic material handling applications & success stories our machines and products can satisfy are seemingly endless. Here we highlight you some of the many ways that our products can be applied to unique manufacturing issues, or with some custom engineering additions, have changed the way a facility operates.

Do you have a unique application? We want to hear about it. Our talented sales and engineering teams are ready to help you enhance your material handling methods in the most simple and ergonomic way.

Read on for unique and exciting application stories!

 



Loading Heavy CNC Tools the Easy Way


Climbing and descending a ladder repeatedly is a leading cause of workplace falls according to the reported workplace injury statistics of OSHA in 2015. Now, add to that scenario the need to physically carry a heavy load up and down a ladder each time and the possibility for injury jumps exponentially.

A major Connecticut-based jet engine manufacturer recently found themselves with a similar scenario within their CNC machining cell setup, and called upon Ergotronix to provide a lifting solution to eliminate the need for the CNC operator to climb and descend a platform each day while physically managing a heavy load of CNC tools.

The Challenge

Develop a method to safely and ergonomically lift and lower a full tray of CNC machine tools within a CNC machine work cell in order to eliminate the safety risk of falling as well as the physical back and body strain associated with repeatedly loading and unloading the heavy CNC tools into the machine.

Application Scenario

Everyday a kit of 12-16 sharpened and preset tools are brought into the CNC maching cell on a tool cart that consists of a cabinet on casters and a tool holder tray. The tools and collets are nested in the tool holder tray which is attached to the top of the cart – each tool and collet assembly can weigh anywhere from 8-25 pounds, depending on the size of the tool and the taper of the collet, all of which are housed in a tool magazine approximately eight feet high from the floor.

Once a machining job is complete, each tool is removed from the previously completed job and placed into the tool holder tray and loaded onto the cart. The operator will then move the cart away from the CNC machine and retrieve the next designated tool cart for the following job, where he then installs each tool required for the next job into the CNC machine.

The root cause of the problem is the storage height (eight feet) and location of the tool holder magazine in relation to the CNC operator.

The tool tray storage location and height results in the operator being required to walk up and down a platform each time the machining job changes in order to remove and return the tools from the previous job, and place them back into the tool holder tray. The operator then repeats the entire process: walking up the platform, retrieving the next set of tools, descending the platform and installing each tool into the machine for the next job, causing the operator to experience a variety of neck, back and shoulder pains, as well as what can be interpreted as an OSHA safety violation of carrying items up and down stairs.

The Ergonomic Solution

The issue was solved by integrating the Ergotronix Ergo Tranz, a manual compact transporter and lifting device, with a custom engineered end-effector into the CNC tool changeover process. Ergotronix developed a CNC tool holder tray that is removable from the existing CNC tool cart. Utilizing the Ergo Tranz lift and transporter, with a set of custom designed forks to disengage the newly designed tool holder tray from the tool cart and transport it to the CNC machine where it is then raised to the eight feet high tool holder magazine.

In this new setup the tool holder tray is next to the CNC tool holder magazine and the operator is able to remain in a stationary position on the platform while removing all of the tools from the previous job at once, placing them into the empty tool holder tray, and then return the tool holder tray to the tool cart. The process is then repeated for the next job, all from the safety of the ground with the need to lift or carry the tools to the holder or up to the magazine storage area.

 

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Ergo Tranz with CNC Tool Caddy

CNC Tool (in tray)

CNC Tool Caddy: Tool holster

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Operator with Ergo Tranz CNC Tool Caddy

 

By utilizing the Ergo Tranz to bring the tools to and from the CNC tool holder magazine, we eliminated all of the operator stresses and strains associated the retrieval of tools and going up and down the platform stairs, as well as the potential OSHA safety violation. With the new setup in place, the operator can now perform the tool changeover function in just one quarter of the original time – giving the company a 75% savings in production time and a safer work environment for their CNC machinist.