Friday, May 6, 2011

UtiliTrak® Linear Guide Motion Solution Provides Ergonomic Tool Positioning for Assembly Operator

Challenge: With continuous improvement and lean thinking in mind, this design team needed to develop a lean assembly workstation for installing numerous fasteners on a variety of product and materials. This assembly workstation needed to shorten operation time, as well as, provide ergonomic movement for the operator. It was also important that the motion solution be able to handle dusty conditions, and reliably operate up to four hours a day, five times a week. 

The previous solution required the operator to adjust all tool settings each time in order to accommodate various project sizes. These changes included replacing the tool bit, adjusting the air pressure, and adjusting the tool clutch settings. These setup adjustments were identified as wasteful, as well as ergonomically challenging which caused unnecessary operator fatigue.

Solution: The new lean assembly workstation was designed to hold three pneumatic assembly tools with each tool dedicated to a specific product size eliminating the need to change tool settings. A welded steel frame was fabricated to hold tool balancers and air regulators within the workspace resulting in ergonomic improvements. 

The pneumatic assembly tools are all in-line style with both push-to-start and leaver actuated to reduce the wrist angle during operation. Two types of tool balancers were installed including pneumatically assisted tool arms, and a spring loaded tool balancer. The spring loaded tool balancer can be positioned with ease by the operator because it is mounted to an UtiliTrak size-3 wheel plate running on UtiliTrak steel track. 

Not only did the UtiliTrak linear guide easily follow the operator’s hand movements in sync and extend the reach of the tool balancer in an effort to provide ergonomics of the workstation, but the steel DualVee® guide wheel technology on the carriage provided the application with long life and reliability due to its constant sweeping action against debris. 

Product Used: UtiliTrak size-3 wheel plate with steel wheels and size-3 steel track