Twin G-Force® units from Gorbel that lift long loads from a single point of control have helped a Canadian manufacturer reduce worker injury and fatigue.
Manufacturer Thomas & Betts builds aluminum and steel cable trays in their Edmonton facility. In this work cell, workers are doing their final welds on the trays, then lifting them onto a cart to be banded and prepared for shipping. The trays resemble aluminum extension ladders when complete, and range in dimension from 6-36 inches wide, and 10-20 feet long, each weighing between 50-130 pounds. The cable trays are long and quite difficult for one person to lift.
Workers had been lifting the trays by hand, and were complaining about fatigue.
"They are so awkward to pick up," said Ken Conrad, Coordinator of Maintenance at the Edmonton facility. "The way you have to bend and lift the tray puts a lot of strain on your back. If you kept the same person on that job all day, by the end of the shift they were really hurting."
These work practices created potentially harmful situations:
o Risk of Injury - The manufacturer was primarily concerned with worker injuries. With 4-5 lost time injuries per year, they decided to improve the work process before more injuries occurred.
o Product Damage - Worker fatigue created high risk for poor placement or dropped goods, a potentially costly problem when handling a finished product.
o Lost Productivity - Productivity was decreasing, especially toward the end of shifts when worker fatigue was setting in. The safest way to lift these parts manually was with two workers, which was not very efficient.
"Our company is big on safety," said Conrad. "The product damage and productivity were important, but those are secondary concerns compared to the safety of the people handling the products."
To lift the long trays safely with the most control, the company was looking for a way to lift both ends of the tray in one synchronized motion. The solution was a Gorbel Work Station Crane with two G-Force® iQ Intelligent Lifting Devices that were operated through one remote mount pendant handle.
This G-Sync(TM) Technology consists of two G-Force® iQ actuators that are mounted on separate bridges and connected through a communication cable that runs within the enclosed tube of the work station crane's runway. The two actuators communicate back and forth, ensuring that they are perfectly in sync throughout the lift cycle. The operator maintains total control of both units through one pendant handle, which is connected to the "master" unit. The bridges move independently along the runways to allow trays of all sizes to be moved. A buffer was placed between the bridges to prevent them from getting too close.
Workers were initially hesitant to use the Gorbel system, but it quickly proved to be a reliable way to move the trays without risking injury.
"They use it every time now," said Conrad. "It's not difficult to use, it just became automatic for them."
Since installing the Gorbel system, the company has been free of all injuries, and productivity is consistently high. The big success for the company is that along with the elimination of lost time injuries, workers are more confident in their jobs.
"They used to be kind of leery about picking up the trays before because they were hurting," said Conrad. "Now there's no fatigue at all. In this line of work, if your back isn't working, you aren't working. That's not a problem any more."
Gorbel: A Class Above
Since 1977, Gorbel has been dedicated to providing high-quality overhead material handling solutions backed by a commitment to on-time delivery, a focus on customer service, and the industry's best warranty.
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