Norcross, GA (PRWEB) April 14, 2007
Ergonomic teams from GE, Johnson & Johnson - Belgium, and Joint Genome Institute surpassed a field of 28 international companies to each be awarded a coveted Ergo Cup for innovative ergonomics solutions implemented in their facilities. In its ninth year, the competition is the most stimulating part of the Applied Ergonomics Conference. To add to the excitement, the ergonomic graduate team from SUNY of Buffalo won the first ever Applied Ergonomics Student Design Competition ePrize.
Approximately 400 ergonomic teams worldwide competed within their own companies before entering the prominent competition. Twenty-eight were selected from 40 entries. Those selected included companies as diverse in operations and products as Boeing, Bridgestone, Dell, Delta Airlines, GE, Honda, J&J, Mary Kay, Harley Davidson, Toyota, Universal Orlando, and Sunrise Medical. All team exhibits shared their problem/solution stories by video, poster boards and even with costumes. A panel of Master Ergonomists judges the entries. The enthusiasm level was off the charts.
The Ergonomic Center of North Carolina and the Institute of Industrial Engineers sponsor the Ergo Cup, awarding a cup in three categories. Tim McGlothlin, MS, CPE, Executive Director of the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina, commented, "Each year we see more and more entries with increasingly more creative approaches to solving substantial human factor issues faced by the average worker. We're proud to continue to support this outstanding competition."
GE's Energy Learning Center based in Schenectady, New York, was faced with trying to train employees in the "Principles of Ergonomics," a course required for all Ergonomic Site Leaders. With a limited number of instructors and leaders scattered across the globe, the center developed a blended learning course that involves individual self-paced lessons coupled with conference calls with a subject matter expert and a site-specific ergonomics project. This was an innovative approach to offering consistent, engaging, and expertly-developed programming.
Johnson & Johnson -- Belgium's solution to cleaning filters in a chemical production facility won the Ergo Cup in the "Engineering/Ergonomist-based Workplace Solution" category. The team tackled the problem of manually removing filters for cleaning which involved unscrewing and screwing 84 screws, all above shoulder height and reachable only by lying on the ground. Using the "Johnson & Johnson Ergonomic Job Analyzer," this task ranked as the highest ergonomic risk on site. By eliminating the need to replace a cloth filter, the ergonomics risk factors, hand-safety issues and possible industrial hygiene exposures by the employees were all eliminated. There was a measurable increase in productivity with a long term investment cost avoidance of over $1 million dollars.
A team of scientists and engineers from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) won the "Team-driven Workplace Solutions" category with their "Shake 'N Plate" a simple device designed to alleviate upper body fatigue associated with bacterial culture plating. The device removes almost all of the weight from the operator's arms and, since implementation, has eliminated injuries and improved the process throughput.
SUNY of Buffalo has the distinct honor of being the first to win the Applied Ergonomics Student Design Competition and take home the ePrize. New for the 2007 conference, this competition is sponsored by Auburn Engineers, Inc. and supported by the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Graduate teams from a number of universities entered the competition and four were invited to attend the conference to compete on site with an additional case study to solve using Auburn Engineers, Inc. eTools software. The design challenge provides an ideal opportunity for graduate level students to assess, design and present a solution to a challenging problem in ergonomics. The ePrize judges were amazed at the creativity and said, "The future is in good hands!" Other finalists for this competition were Auburn University, the University of South Dakota, and NYU-Pratt Institute. Dave Alexander, PE, CPE, President of Auburn Engineers, Inc. proudly carried the ePrize throughout the entire Applied Ergonomics Conference until awarding it to SUNY and stated, "I knew that we'd see some creative solutions from our newest budding Ergonomists. I know the teams made great networking contacts while at the conference and we know this event will continue to grow in popularity."
The full conference featured keynote speakers Andrew S. Imada, Ph.D., CPE; Amy May, MS, CPE, Enterprise Ergonomics and Gerald Lancour, Director, both from The Boeing Company; educational sessions including a Master Ergonomist series; benchmarking sessions; vendor and Ergo Cup exhibits; facility tours, and pre- and post-conference in-depth workshops. The 11th Annual Applied Ergonomics conference will be held March 10-13 in Orlando, Florida. Registration is open to the public. For information, call (800) 494-0460.
Ergo Excellence Awards to GE Universal, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman, General Electric Rail, and Bridgestone
In addition to the Ergo Cups and the ePrize, five Ergo Excellence Awards were presented based on attendees' voting while at the conference. The Exhibit Hall was abuzz with Ergo Cup demonstrations coupled with exhibitors of ergonomic-related products. There was never a lull on the floor. GE Universal, who won an Ergo Excellence Award for "Presentation" brought Shrek™ in complete costume, to demonstrate the ergonomic improvements the team made to the costume which reduced down time, light duty days, and head injuries of over $80,000 with a $1700 solution.
The Boeing Company's Everett, Washington location, won the Ergo Excellence award in Innovation for their 767 Final Assembly Flap Transmission Installation tool. The flap transmission installation process originally required three mechanics to carry two 138 pound flap transmissions upstairs than manually lift parts into place and bolt them, causing numerous musculoskeletal problems that translated into health and safety costs for the company as well as damage to aircraft parts. The team designed and developed a set of tools to resolve lifting, carrying and holding of the transmission for installation. As a result, lifting and carrying hazards were eliminated and no injuries have occurred, all at a substantial cost saving in time, manpower, health and product costs.
Employees at Northrop Grumman Newport News' site were experiencing wrist injuries due to the difficulty in drilling new holes in a catapult trough on board one of their aircraft carriers. Their solution of designing a "Catapult Multi-function Tool" won them an Ergo Excellence award in the Cost Savings category. The new machine's design condenses several stages into one process, reduces man hours and related accidents and injuries at a total cost savings of over $640K per ship.
General Electric Rail Services, was awarded the Ergonomic Excellence Award for Risk Reduction for their Tank Car Valve Removal System, which was developed at a GE railcar repair facility in Regina, SK. The team eliminated manual lifting and positioning of heavy tank car bottom outlet valves by designing and building a simple and cost effective tool cart, valve jack, and mobile support platform. The highly manual and non-standard task is now significantly more worker-friendly and poses much less risk of personnel injury and fatigue. This also resulted in an estimated $11,700$CDN per year increased capacity for growth.
Bridgestone/USW 1155's entry "Aim High…Simplify" focused on solving the final rework area to positioning tires. The tire would slip, slide and fall off the platform, causing increased risk of shoulder injuries. The team designed a four-peg system that is virtually hands-free and eliminated the entire ergonomic risk factor for less than $75. This ingenuity won them the Ergo Excellence Award for Simplicity.
For a complete description of all entrants as well as a video of prior year's competition, go to http://www.appliedergo.org.
Founded in 1948, the Institute of Industrial Engineers is the premier society dedicated to serving the professional needs of all people involved in improving quality and productivity. IIE produces the Applied Ergonomics conference and supports the Applied Ergonomics community. See http://www.iienet.org for more information about IIE.
Photos available upon request. Media may attend future conference at no charge.
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