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Customer Success: Driving Change in Auto Parts Distribution – An Ergonomic Overhaul

Feb 13, 2024 | All Articles, Ergonomics, Productivity, Custom Solutions, Success Stories

Customer

As a premier global manufacturer and distributor of auto parts, this company has established a reputation for delivering top-tier OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and aftermarket solutions. They are committed to quality, reliability, and value.

BOSTONtec Dealer:

Phil Garcia with McCombs Wall, 30+ years’ experience in selling material handling equipment.

“Our long-standing partnership with BOSTONtec has been centered on providing custom solutions to our customers. This is another example of BOSTONtec’s strength of attentively listening to customer needs and delivering tailored solutions that effectively address their challenges.”

Challenge

In the competitive auto parts manufacturing and distribution world, achieving operational efficiency and maintaining precision is essential.

For this global manufacturer, a significant challenge arose in the packing and shipping department. This department ensures that the auto parts reach their destinations reliably and on time, directly impacting the company’s efficiency and customer satisfaction levels.

  • Products arriving from bulk shipments are broken down and sorted, then carefully packaged with appropriate labeling for identification and tracking.
  • The logistics team efficiently organizes these products for dispatch, optimizing delivery routes for timely distribution.

Unfortunately, the old workstations in the packaging and shipping zones fell short of expectations. They were an assorted mixture of components, often assembled in-house, which resulted in a lack of uniformity and reduced efficiency.

These workstations weren’t specifically designed for the unique demands of their packing and shipping tasks. These tasks guarantee that auto parts are delivered to customers in pristine condition and within the expected time frame.

The inefficiency of these old workstations created a significant hurdle, hampering the overall productivity and dependability of their supply chain.

Solution

In response to the unique demands of the auto parts manufacturing and distribution industry, this global manufacturer has undertaken significant enhancements in their packaging and shipping workflows.

Central to this initiative is the strategic implementation of BOSTONtec workstations, designed with a keen focus on ergonomics, efficiency, and versatility.

These workstations are not only tailored to accommodate the diverse needs of their workforce but are also optimally positioned and equipped to streamline the entire packing and shipping process.

Auto parts distribution workstation application

About this Application:

  • Recognize the importance of ergonomics and employee well-being: The company adopted the electric height-adjustable workstations, customized for a “higher-than-normal” maximum tabletop height to cater to their diverse workforce.
  • Strategic implementation: BOSTONtec workstations have been implemented in two critical areas – packing and shipping. In the small parts and repack section, workstations are positioned near conveyors for smaller packages and a large floor scale for palletized shipments, optimizing the handling and movement of auto parts.
  • Integration with conveyor system: Boxing and shipping workstations are aligned adjacent to a sloped conveyor ramp. They handle larger and heavier boxes. The integration of ball transfers into the workstation surfaces simplifies the movement of finished boxes onto a gravity conveyor behind each station. It streamlines the packaging process and reduces ergonomic risks.
  • Thoughtful design: All workstations are configured to seamlessly integrate various printers, label printers, and computer equipment, essential for inventory management, tracking, and efficient processing of shipments.

Workflow Improvement and Efficiency Boost

Implementing these ergonomic and efficient workstations led to a significant improvement in the workflow within the facility. This included streamlining the process of material handling tasks reducing the number of manual interactions required for each packing task.

The efficacy of ergonomic workstations and accessories was validated through an in-depth motion study conducted as part of an independent ergonomic study by The Ergonomics Center of North Carolina State University. According to the study, the introduction of ergonomic workstations into packaging operations could result in an 18% reduction in cycle time.

Ergonomic study cycle time graphic

Ergonomic workstations could enhance overall operational efficiency.

Improved Ergonomics

The workstation redesign and modernization were focused on ergonomic improvements, creating a more comfortable and safer working environment. This reduced physical strain on employees, decreasing the risk of workplace injuries and likely improving employee health and satisfaction.

Packing station with ball transfers work surface

1. Electric height adjustability: Work surface height can be adjusted easily with a touch of a button to accommodate the height of each operator and the task at hand. This feature enables the employee to work in ergonomic postures throughout the day.

2. Work surface with integrated ball transfers: This custom feature facilitates the smooth transportation of heavy boxes from the workstation to the conveyor without requiring employees to engage in lifting, pulling, turning, and twisting. It thus reduces employees’ exposure to ergonomic risks arising from a combination of awkward postures and repetitive motions. The balls can also be lowered creating a stable work surface for the operator to work on.

Watch this short video to see how work surface with rollers and ball transfers work.

3. Adjustable shelf with tilt: The inclusion of tilting shelves ensures that equipment and supplies are easily accessible to employees. This design helps alleviate wrist strain resulting from repeatedly reaching for labels and shipping documents from the printers.

Adaptability to Specific Needs

Customizing workstations to meet specific ergonomic requirements demonstrates the company’s commitment to a tailored approach to workplace design. This ensures that the work environment is optimized to meet the workforce’s specific needs, enhancing job performance, employee well-being, and, ultimately, the quality of product handling and distribution quality.

BOSTONtec is an industry leader in customized solutions. Discover why custom solutions can lead to optimized performance for both employers and employees.

You can download the PDF version of this case study here.

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About the Author

Nina Neuschuetz
Nina Neuschuetz
As the Marketing Manager for BOSTONtec, Nina brings a wealth of experience with over 25 years of B2B marketing expertise in both the United States and Europe. Her tenure at BOSTONtec has been marked by a keen focus on ergonomics within the industrial market. Notably, she lead an ergonomic study in collaboration with the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina State University and developed comprehensive ergonomic guides for industrial and commercial workstation environments. Nina’s role extends to collaborating with customers and partners, guiding them through market trends and solutions tailored for the industry. She holds a post-graduate degree in Marketing and Business Administration from the University of Passau, Germany. Connect with Nina to explore ergonomic solutions and industry insights on her LinkedIn profile.

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