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Ergonomic design

13 December 2019

Health and safety, employee wellbeing and greater productivity benefits, make ergonomic working an essential consideration in today’s workplace

This means not only ensuring that machines and equipment satisfy safety requirements but also making sure that they are as easy to use as possible – ideally effortless, strain-free and offering suitable adjustment for each operator.

One example where manual handling can easily be optimised for process plant and machine operatives is the operator terminal on machines, which needs to be flexible and easy to position using support arm systems. The support arms must be adjustable to allow the terminals to be comfortably positioned for operators of different heights.

Rittal is now offering a height-adjustable support section for its CP support arm system. There are two weight ranges: 4–30 kg or 10–60 kg. Weight can be adjusted within these ranges to ensure that the enclosure remains at the set height over long periods of operation without any re-adjustment – a feature comprehensively tested by Rittal in the laboratory over 30,000 cycles.

Designed for a maximum height difference of 600mm and smaller than its predecessor, the new height-adjustable support section allows integration into the support arm system without adding an adaptor. The wide range of height adjustment ensures maximum comfort for operators of different heights, in both seated and standing positions.

As with all Rittal support arm systems, one-person assembly is possible. The weight of the height-adjustable support arm is set via an easy-to-access screw and does not require the dismantling of any components to access the screw, simplifying the system adjustment. Screws at the joints can be reached even after assembly while a removable side panel ensures easy access to cable routing.

Ergonomic panel building

It’s not only the support arm systems that benefit from Rittal ergonomic design. In the panel building and OEM environment Rittal has incorporated ergonomic design into all of its standard products.

The new AX and KX wall boxes (available from January) reduce dis-assembly work during initial modifications because the door, mounting plate, locks and gland plates are provided but not fitted. Furthermore, features such as retrospective earthing and simplified wall mounting ensure improved, flexible and efficient use.

Fitting AX accessories also needs relatively little manual operation. The interior installation rail with 25mm pitch pattern allows accessories to be fitted inside without any vibration/force caused by drilling, which in turn means the operator is safer as are the components inside (because the IP rating is protected).

The market-leading VX25 baying enclosure system has several ergonomically designed features. The new frame section now offers access from all sides as well as inside and outside. It is now possible to fit mounting plates from the back; particularly useful when heavily populated mounting plates are being installed. The additional 20mm installation depth provides more manoeuvre room within the enclosure for particularly deep installations.

Installing mounting plates in the VX25 is now easier with new protective slides

Installing mounting plates in the VX25 is now easier with new protective slides. Until now, it was often difficult to fit very heavy mounting plates - lifting them with a hoist and then fixing them within the enclosure was an awkward process. With the VX25, protective slides ensure that the mounting plate can be easily positioned and screwed in place after it has been lowered down by the hoist.

Automated tools

One way to substantially lessen the likelihood of manual strain and damage to employees is to consider introducing further semi- or fully automated tools into the workshop.

Rittal Automation Systems (RAS) offers a wide variety of semi-automatic and automated solutions to significantly decrease the required amount of manual handling and material manipulation.

Perforex machining centres deliver fully automated, fast, precise and reliable machining - drilling, thread-tapping and milling - of mounting plates, doors, roof plates, side panels, gland plates or complete enclosures.

The machines allow optimal handling of all parts and all materials commonly used in panel building - such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper and plastic - may be machined very cost and time effectively, with savings of up to 80 per cent. It’s far more precise than traditional manual processes and will replicate that accuracy as often as required.  It also, of course, causes far less physical impact on the hands and wrists in particular. Almost all common CAD and E-planning systems can be used for remotely programming machine operation, while programmed job sheets can be re-used to avoid repetition of work. The enhanced performance package offers less vibration, faster feed rate, reduced noise emission and prolonged tool life.

Key Points

  • Manual handling can easily be optimised for process plant and machine operatives via the operator terminal on machines
  • Support arms must be adjustable to allow the terminals to be comfortably positioned for operators of different heights
  • Rittal Automation Systems (RAS) semi-automatic and automated solutions to significantly decrease manual handling