Taking a few minutes to follow these four basic steps can help ensure proper
workstation design. For additional guidelines of item placement visit ergonomic reach zones page.
Draft an inventory of all tools, equipment and components necessary to perform the task. Most items will fall into the following categories:
Tools – screwdrivers, pliers, snips, pneumatic drivers, wrenches, soldering irons, pens, markers, scissors, etc.
Test and Process Equipment – meters, scopes, generators, test beds, scales, microscopes, gauges, etc.
Components – screws, nuts, bolts, washers, spacers, capacitors, gears, caps, boxes, bags, tape, wire, labels, etc.
Product – Item on which the task is being performed.
Assign all items on the workstation inventory list to the appropriate ergonomic reach zone. Workstation hardware itself will play a major role in the effectiveness of the design. The workstation should be optimized for the individual operator. This will mean setting the correct work surface height, correct seating, proper lighting and locating all components and tools within easy reach for the individual user.
After identifying what tools and materials will be required to complete the task, the next step will be to decide how and where to place these articles relative to the operator. This is accomplished by a thorough analysis of the tools, equipment and components as they integrate with the task. The higher the assigned priority, the closer the item should be to the operator. The relative importance of each article should be determined through the ergonomic consideration of the following:
Frequency - How often a tool or component is accessed by the operator while performing the complete task.
Example: If in the course of a 6 hour assembly process (360 minutes), a task requires 300 pieces of Part A and 30 pieces of Part B, the operator would access a bin for Part A an average of once every 1.2 minutes (360 minutes/300 pieces) and the bin for Part B once every 12 minutes (360/30). In this example, the bin for Part A should be placed in a position that is easier to access than Part B.
Sequence – The order in which the operator needs to access the components to perform the task. Often certain components need to be placed in an assembly before other components can be added.
Example: If components must be accessed in the order of A, then B, then C, etc. consider arranging bins in most comfortable position for operator. The most common format is like reading a book - left to right and top to bottom.
If material is delivered to the workstation in a kitted container, the first component to be used should be located on the top, the next underneath, and so on.
Accuracy – The precision level or quality the task requires.
Example: Installation of fine components or assemblies that require precision assembly or adjustment. Reading detailed documentation that is required to perform the task like placing items in a circuit board would require better positioning than a document listing the monthly build schedule.
Duration – The period of time the operator will use a particular tool, component or piece of equipment.
Example: If during the course of a 30 minute test the operator uses a voltmeter for 15 minutes and a signal generator for 5 minutes, the voltmeter would require a more convenient placement than the generator.
Safety – The consideration of and planning for injury prevention.
Example: Items like hot solder irons, knives, open flames, cleaning fluids, heat guns, saws, etc. will often require special consideration above factors like frequency, sequence, convenience duration or force.
Force – The level of physical exertion or dexterity required to perform the task.
Example: If Part A weighs 5 pounds and Part B weighs 0.1 ounce, Part A would require more effort to handle than Part B and should be positioned appropriately.
Convenience – Never “over-engineer” a layout. Sometimes common sense or user input will dictate which item has the highest priority and the best placement.
At this point, material handling should be reviewed to ensure the most efficient, safest methods are being used. Some things to review include the following:
All material handling vehicles ideally have large, easy rolling wheels with simple-to-use brakes that lock securely in both roll and rotation. Vehicle handles should be at an appropriate height for the users. Trucks with elevating platforms can be used to eliminate lifting. Bending and stooping should be eliminated wherever possible through the use of appropriate containers, and material handling vehicle.
We understand some assembly applications have specific needs that require special solutions so we make customization easy and affordable. With productivity and operator safety in mind, our design and engineering team can help create options and accessories to meet those needs - like custom work surfaces for inserting scales. Contact BOSTONtec today for a free consultation.