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Crank or Electric Height Adjustable?

Sep 28, 2020 | Ergonomics, Productivity

The focus of applied ergonomics is to make the workplace a safer, more comfortable and more productive environment for each individual operator. Crank versus electric height adjustability? We compare the two options in industrial workstations under 5 criteria:

1. Operator Stress

Mechanical and hydraulic height adjustable tables that use manual hand cranks are not easy to adjust. The loading on the table is felt at the crank. Keep in mind that the weight of an industrial workbench includes the work surface, uprights, shelves, lights, drawers, and everything on the table top. The heavier the load, the more effort needed to turn the crank.

A lightly loaded workstation can require up to 60 pounds of force per turn. This poses ergonomic risks to the operator if the workstation height needs to be adjusted frequently during a shift as it is required by some tasks. An operator would choose to avoid the cumbersome operation whenever possible. This could cause additional ergonomic issues due to suboptimal workstation settings. 

In comparison, the height of electric height adjustable workbenches is controlled with a programmable switch. It can be activated with just the touch of a button. Ease of use will motivate the operators to optimize workstation height.  It enhances their performance and wellbeing.

2. Non-Value Added Time

For convenience and safety, manual hand cranks are usually stored out of the way when not in use. The operator often has to extract the crank before making the necessary turns to adjust the workstation height, not always an easy task especially for a 5th percentile woman.

Turning the crank is not only difficult but also time-consuming. Mechanical and hydraulic cranks require about 7 turns for every inch of height change. Height adjustment is even more challenging when the load on the work surface is not evenly distributed. Rearrangement might be necessary which costs extra time.

crank adjustment requirement

Time lost on cranking equals lost productivity. It means less boxes or sub-assemblies out the door and potentially cranky employees for you.

Electric height adjustable industrial workstations change height quickly with just the touch of a button.  Multiple presets can be saved for different operators. It is a big time saver for multi-operator, multi-shift applications. Within a single shift, the operator can adjust the height anytime to fit the task better or enjoy the health benefits of switching between sitting and standing positions effortlessly.

3. Operator Safety

Hydraulic crank workstations utilize fluid-filled, pressurized cylinders in each leg. The lines are susceptible to collapse causing the fluid to spray onto the workstation, operator or floor creating safety hazards. Due to the potential fluid release, hydraulic crank tables are undesirable in cleanroom environments. Electric height adjustable workstations require no messy fluid.

4. Reliability

Manual and hydraulic crank tables are less dependable resulting in unnecessary operator down time and lost productivity. Electric height adjustable workstations have a 99.5% reliability rating.

5. Maintenance Expenses

Unlike electric height adjustable workstations, crank tables require routine maintenance. Repairs can take a hydraulic table out of service to rebuild cylinders and drain fluids. Mechanical designs utilize non-precision jacks which are inefficient and require regular upkeep. Electric height adjustable workstations have sealed actuators that require no maintenance.

Electric height adjustable industrial workbenches are clearly the winner here. It’s time to ditch the crank to improve your productivity and employee health!

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