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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

 

January – 2017
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 without the need to lift or carry the tools to the holder or up to the magazine storage area.

 

ET CNC Tool Caddy-compressed

Ergo Tranz with CNC Tool Caddy

CNC Tool (in tray)

CNC Tool Caddy: Tool holster

ET CNC Tool Caddy-2-compressed

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.


Built to Tilt, the Ergo Master Positioned This Seat Manufacturer for Success


July – 2017
Manually controlling the position and tilt of a heavy, awkwardly weighted object is a challenge at best. Add to that, the need to perform work on the object while maintaining its balance and position and the task becomes very unsafe and very inefficient.

A major seating manufacturing company located in Ohio, contacted Ergotronix to help them find a solution to their existing method of applying fabric to automobile seats that reduced production time, while also providing a safer and more ergonomic workplace.

 

The Challenge

Develop a method to safely and ergonomically lift and tilt the frame of an automobile seat in order to apply and secure cushioning and fabric, while eliminating the safety risks, back, and shoulder strain associated with manually moving and holding the seats in necessary work positions.

 

Application Scenario

Each day seat frames were brought into the finishing department for adhering cushioning and stretching seat fabric over the bare metal frame.
This finishing process, allotted only 25 seconds per seat. This tempo could not be sustained due to the multiple time consuming adjustments to position the frame into each necessary work position. The loss in production time was compounded by the need for each operator to hold the seat in place after it was placed in position while cushion and fabric was applied.
The used home-made work positioners further did not address the need for tilting and holding the seats towards the operator in order to see the upper-most portion of the seat, or allowing the operator to safely affix fabric into small, hard to reach locations.

This lack of safe tilt-and-hold action often lead to near-miss accidents and was a serious issue of operator safety along with a notable lag in production time and daily output.

 

The Ergonomic Solution

This challenging issue was solved by working closely with the onsite safety manager to develop an ergonomic solution.

The Ergo Master 3-axis work positioner was selected as it offers all three desired movements: up/down, rotation and tilt with safe lockable positions in any needed work position. Furthermore, ensuring adaptability to any worker and their unique work requirements. Using this 3-axis work-positioner, the operators were able reduce the time it took to set the seats into needed and proper placement, while ensuring a safe working environment. The hazard of manually tilting the seats into suitable work positions was totally eliminated, ultimately saving the company time and work-related health issues.

Ergo Master 303-400 Ergo Master – A versatile manual work positioner with up/down, tilt and rotation.

A follow up with the seat manufacturer a few weeks after the first implementation demonstrated a decrease in production time, to the optimal 25 seconds per seat, and an elimination of wasted production time maneuvering the seats into suitable, ergonomic and safe work positions.


The Ergo Tranz Lifts and Transports the Aerospace Industry Forward

 

February -2018
Manually lifting and carrying a heavy, awkwardly weighted object is a challenging and laborious task. Performing that task repeatedly, while simultaneously affixing the object to a mounting plate, being cautious to maintain its balance and position in the process, makes the task unsafe and inefficient.


The Challenge

A major Illinois-based aerospace fuel pump manufacturer contacted Ergotronix to provide an ergonomic lift and transportation solution that alleviated the heavy stress and strain on the technicians who perform quality testing on their aircraft fuel pumps.


Application Scenario

Previously, the fuel pump testing technician would detach and lift the 40-pound fuel pump from its shipping pallet and carry it to the first testing station approximately 15 feet away.  Then, while holding the unit in midair the technician would manually affix the fuel pump to the first testing unit fixture and run the initial diagnostic test.

Upon completion of the initial test, the fuel pump was manually removed from the first testing station fixture and carried to a second testing station approximately three feet away. Again, the fuel pump was manually held by the testing technician while being affixed to the second testing station fixture. Once the fuel pump was secured, the second set of diagnostics would be run. As soon as these rounds of quality tests were completed, the technician would manually hold the fuel pump while simultaneously removing if from the testing fixture, then carry it back to the original shipping pallet and re-affix it to the pallet for additional later analysis.

During this repeated process, the fuel pump was also open to potential damage as the technician manually carried the heavy, awkward fuel pump between testing stations and then back to the shipping pallet.

 

The Ergonomic Solution

This challenge was solved through the implementation of the Ergo Tranz lift/transporter into the fuel pump testing process.

The Ergo Tranz model 450F was selected as the optimal unit for this application, as this unit is capable of holding up to 450 pounds of load, and offers a sturdy mast and base structure for the fuel pump to be lifted and transported safely between testing cells. This unit is also capable of navigating through narrow factory floor isles and tight corner spaces.  Once the testing station measurements were complete, and the Ergo Tranz was built to fit within the confines of the factory isles, the Ergo Tranz unit was outfitted with a traditional boom and hook attachment, and a safety tie strap, to ensure the fuel pump would be kept steady and balanced on the Ergo Tranz unit during transport.

Within a few days after the installation of the first unit, the fuel pump testing technician confirmed that the Ergo Tranz unit completely eliminated the need for the heavy manual lifting and carrying process from the shipping pallet and between each testing station.

Ergo Tranz lift with boom and hook

In the two years that followed the initial introduction of the Ergo Tranz, more than 10 additional units have been brought in to alleviate similar ergonomic and health related concerns. By utilizing the Ergo Tranz to lift and move fuel pumps between testing stations, Ergotronix helped eliminate the health and safety concerns of repeated back strain as well as the need to hold 40 pounds at full arm extension.

Additionally, the Ergo Tranz units have enhanced the quality control of the department, as fuel pumps are no longer open to accidental bumping or knocking against other items while transitioning between test stations. The implementation of the Ergo Tranz has been viewed with overwhelming success at this facility.


The Roll Flex Multi-Directional Roller Makes A Splash in the Water Park Industry

August-2018
Hauling heavy, water-logged rafts from the base to the top of water park attractions can be troublesome and often times a safety concern. Once at the top, manipulating the one, two and multi-rider rafts to the correct slide position and location presents a second, equally frustrating and physically tiring task given the variations in weather and rider frequency.


The Challenge

A well known water park facility in the Northeast, with a large mult-rider water slide attraction required an update to their existing method of returning large water rafts to the top of the slide structure. The park management and engineers contacted Van Stone Conveyor, a leading water park and amusement facility conveyor company, to provide the convey and transfer solution for their rafts. While developing this multi-faceted solution, Van Stone Conveyor discovered they needed a method to quickly, simply, and ergonomically move the large single, double and family sized rafts from the water slide conveyor to the desired slide location while also allowing the water park attendant to easily sort the rafts by rider type and the number of riders next in line.

Application Scenario

Previously, each water slide customer, or group of customers, was required to carry the large, bulky, heavy rafts to the top of the water slide attraction manually. This method was cumbersome and posed several safety concerns. Once at the top, the water park associate would help the customer(s) position the raft onto the appropriate slide for use. This method forced the customers and water park attendant to overtly strain and stress.

 

The Ergonomic Solution

This convey and sort challenge at the top each water park attraction was solved through the implementation of the Roll Flex multi-directional conveyor roller. A roller suitable for both wet and potentially debris filled environments.

The initial solution developed was a simple mechanical belts and pulley conveyor method whereby the rafts would feed back to the top of the structure, yet at the top the issue of sorting the large, heavy rafts remained. Hence, water ride attendants would still be required to manually lift and push each raft in one of four directions based on which ride slide a customer waited. The issue of physical strain, struggle, and undue frustration remained.
Ultimately, the solution was to implement the Ergotronix multi-directional conveyor roller into the raft conveyance process. The Roll Flex model 80S was selected for its large size and ability to handle up to 90 pounds of load per roller. These polyurethane rollers with stainless steel axles are build to sustain rugged and wet environments, making it perfect to easily manipulate and sort the largest multi-person raft being conveyed through the raft conveyor system.

 

In the many years that have followed, Van Stone Conveyor found that usage of the Roll Flex 80S multi-directional rollers provided the exact required convey and transfer solution for any water park size and its simple installation process makes it a staple in both existing and future raft conveyor systems.

Robust Yet Delicate Glass Cutters Prove No Match for the Ergo Tranz

October-2018
The Challenge

Thermo Fisher Scientific in New Hampshire asked Ergotronix to come up with an ergonomic lift assist solution to retrieve, and install glass cutter tooling magazines into the bed of a Glass Slide Cutting Machine. The machine produces microscopic glass slides and covers. The company challenged Ergotronix to devise a method that would eliminate 100% lifting currently associated with the manual handling of the cutter slides.

Application Scenario

Previously, two operators had been injured using the current two-person lift method to manually retrieve the heavy and bulky cutting tools from the storage drawer, then walk them over and place them into the Glass Cutting machine bed by hand. During this operation the employees incurred excessive physical strain and physical injury. These special tools are extremely expensive diamond impregnated, precision set and calibrated cutters for their glass cutting operations. The precision cutters can be easily knocked out of alignment, or be seriously damaged, by even the slightest bang or knock during handling and installation.

Thermo Fisher Scientific insisted that, a safer and foolproof method by devised to handle these cutters, without sacrificing production time or allocated capital expenditure budget.

 

The Ergonomic Solution

To tackle this challenge, Ergotronix designed and built a custom Ergo Tranz compact lift/transporter, with a precision retractable boom/hoist style end-effector. The boom/hoist featured featured precision bearings between the inner and outer telescoping sections for easy positioning and retrieval of the cutter tools from the storage drawers.

Today, one operator moves the Ergo Tranz up to the applicable cutter drawer storage shelf. By hand pendant control, the operator is positioning to correct height while engaging the end hooks to the selected cutter tool. Once secured in place, the operator transports the cutter tool to the machine bed for installation. At location, the operator locks the Ergo Tranz in place, walks to the front of the boom/hoist and with ease positions the cutter tool to the predetermined installation height. By just one hand the operator extends the boom as he gently lowers the cutter tool into the machine bed. Once the cutter tool is securely in place, the operator removes the end hooks and returns the Ergo Tranz to its parking space.
Thermo Fisher adjustable boom (unit and boom)

Thermo Fisther Ergo Tranz with adjustable boom tool

Thermo Fisher - adustable boom (close up)
Thermo Fisher - adjustable boom with glass cutter tool box-1 Thermo Fisher - adjustable boom with glass cutter tool box-2
The Thermo Fisher operators are very pleased with the ergonomic improvement gained by the utilization of the Ergo Tranz. They have also been very pleased with the ease of use, as well as reliability of the equipment.