Ergonomic Tilt Material Handling Equipment Has Arrived

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Sorely needed ergonomic adjustments to material handling conveyor now possible with a modular system that can save on production line fatigue, repetitive motion injuries and extremely expensive workers comp claims.

The result may be a drop-off in productivity plus worker discomfort that can eventually lead to severe health problems.

The lack of ergonomics in material handling equipment such as conveyors has resulted in Repetitive Motion Injuries as well as diminished productivity on countless production and packaging lines everywhere. Injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome plus aggravated fibromyalgia, fatigue and resulting workers comp claims may be reduced or even eliminated through the improved worker comfort now possible with the Ergonomic Tilt system from DynaCon, Muskegon, MI.

"When people perform repetitive manual tasks such as picking parts from a conveyor in order to package them or inspect them or some other operation, the result can be physical stress that worsens over time," says DynaCon's Tom Habetler. "The result may be a drop-off in productivity plus worker discomfort that can eventually lead to severe health problems."

Many material handling equipment experts agree with Habetler's position to say the least; some of them encourage that material handling systems planners design conveyors so that workers will perform multiple manual tasks rather than single ones in order to lessen the neuromuscular strain that often result from repetitive moves. While such material handling "job enlargement" may improve worker health and satisfaction, the price is often slackened productivity.

Yet, job enlargement may be precluded and physical stress eliminated by the simple manipulation of a system at a vertical angle that lessens the stress of repetitive motions of workers hands and arms. This material handling equipment concept was recently tested successfully at a major candy company where workers continuously pick products from a flat belt and place them in specified positions in candy boxes.

"Due to worker discomfort and fatigue from repetitive movements, we modified one of our DynaCon sections to a more ergonomic configuration by tilting it at a 15-degree angle and installing a low-profile side," explains Habetler. "While the angle was not at all severe, it was enough to greatly improve worker comfort. Conveyor sides were lowered to about 1/8-inch above the belt, which was enough height to keep the product from falling off, yet low enough to facilitate workers in retrieving products off the belt."

The success of these modifications led DynaCon to offer Ergonomic Tilt conveyors as part of its modular line of material handling equipment. Not yet offered with standard dimensions, this new product is now available within a range of customer specifications. Essentially, customers discuss their needs with a DynaCon rep, who in turn has factory engineers recommend modifications. If need be, future modifications can be made inexpensively.

"With its 'building block' design, and ease of reconfiguration, this system has always accommodated a more ergonomic approach," Habetler says. "For instance, some molding operations use our radius turn module and various lift mechanisms to alter or fine-tune the system to provide for improved worker comfort."

Cost savings as well as the potential for ergonomic benefits were designed into the original DynaCon system. Featuring a "truly modular" approach to material handling equipment in light- to medium duty applications, this system is composed of a wide assortment of lightweight modules constructed of high-impact plastic.


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