The Timken Company in Manchester, Conn. is the winner of its fifth annual Find It – Fix It Challenge
, which recognizes and rewards simple and effective workplace solutions that result in increased productivity, improved worker morale, and fewer workplace injuries and illnesses.
Timken’s improvement focused on improving the posture and comfort of the worker responsible for deburring a bull gear, weighing 856lbs., by improving the accessibility. Prior to the fix, the worker manually deburred the gear twice – deburring is the finishing method used to smooth rough edges on metal. The operation was performed with the gear placed on a cart and in a horizontal position. The worker had to stand and bend over the gear, in order to reach the gear teeth, for several hours. When the first side was complete, the gear was flipped 180-degrees to deburr the other side.
The company engineered a solution that raised the gear to eye level and positioned the gear to a vertical and upright position. Now the worker is able to sit and perform the operation without bending. This improvement reduces the injury risk of handling the gear, decreases the time spent deburring, improves accessibility and comfort of the worker, and reduces the stresses placed on the neck, back, shoulders and elbows.
"Through teamwork and engineering problem-solving, we achieved substantial ergonomics improvement by creating a fixture to hold the gear in a vertical position, and using a roller system that allows for fast and easy adjustment. Mounting the fixture on a portable, adjustable table allows the associate to perform the work more comfortably," says Scott Amendola, EHS Analyst at Timken. "In less than four months, the project also achieved its return on investment and has improved customer service by reducing delivery times."