Aluminium profiles united with hand-operated hydraulics

Applied Automation has designed an adjustable workstation for Kautex Textron CVS that incorporates MayTec aluminium profiles and a manually-operated hydraulic system to adjust the workstation's height.

Health and safety in the workplace is one key issue all managers are aware of; whether they are risk assessing an office for trip hazards and RSI or categorising a machine based on the severity of injury and frequency of access, the application of certain rules is key to assuring the required standards are met. At Kautex Textron CVS Ltd in South Wales, managers have gone one step further by being proactive and improving their work efficiencies by applying ergonomics.

The production engineers at Kautex have produced a set of company standards based on Textron Automotive's Humantec manual. One key reason for the development of the manual was as a 'guide to achieving the high performance workplace through ergonomics.'

Kautex manufacture sub-components for the automotive industry, ranging from windscreen washer bottles to telescopic headlight wash systems. The assembly process for these products requires a high proportion of manual assembly, so the company has in excess of 80 assembly benches.

Ergonomic principles

The Humantec manual dates back to 1997 and addresses many aspects including the layout of an office desk, the position of the computer screen in relation to the user and the set up of the operator's chair; it also includes the use of assembly benches.

Kautex teamed up with aluminium profile supplier Applied Automation (MayTec division) in order to deploy suitable ergonomic workstations throughout its South Wales facility.

David Rowe, Managing Director at Applied Automation (UK) Ltd, comments: "There is no such thing as a British Standard person; therefore it makes sense that any assembly bench height should be adjustable. Using the MayTec aluminium profile we can produce simple and cost-effective solutions to accommodate such demands, and produce an assembly bench that is ergonomically suitable for both little Betty and big Fred".

Paul McAndrew, Manufacturing Engineering Manager at Kautex, recalls: "The original 'adjustable' solution used within the production department involved cutting the legs on the static assembly bench and fixing telescopic extensions to the legs, thus allowing the bench to move up and down, while maintaining rigidity. The adjustment mechanism was a bottle jack placed in the middle of the underside of the bench; by raising the jack, it raised the bench. Whilst basic, it was very effective, though not ideal."

Handwheel hydraulics

On a mission to find 'the ideal solution' to meet their demands for health and safety, the production engineers spoke to a number of leading suppliers of aluminium profiles, including Applied Automation – MayTec division. The engineering application team at Applied Automation, headed by Nigel Williams, proposed a design that incorporated the MayTec profile system and a hydraulic pack consisting of four hydraulic cylinders and a manual rotary handle for adjustment. This design allows for 200mm (8 inches) of travel from the lowest bench height to the highest.

Paul at Kautex comments: "The assembly operators understand it is their responsibility to adjust the bench to meet their individual requirements, and they often adjust the bench height during the working day as their needs change, just like you would alter the lumber support in your car seat, if you were driving for a long time."

An additional benefit in using the aluminium frame in place of the old fabricated workstation is the ease of adding accessories to the bench - such as cable reels, storage bins and heat gun holders; this is due to the T slots on the profile. The MayTec design makes for a flexible and adaptable work suite and enables 'personalisation' for both the operator and/or the operation.

Steve Brown, Kautex's Environment, Health and Safety Manager, says: "We are currently 40 per cent of the way through the migration of their work stations, assembly benches and packing tables from the old fabricated solution to MayTec, and are so pleased with this approach we present and promote the solution at our inter-company safety and production seminars."

Applied Automation Industrial Systems

Concept House, Eastern Wood Road
Langage Industrial Estate

44 1752 349 920

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