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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 with 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

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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.


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.