Helen Allen Tracy Albert Bonnie
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  • You are here: Home-> News->How to Design A Workstation

    The workstation is a central focal point for optimizing human factors in production areas, whether a stationary work bench or a flexible position on a moving line. Common shortcomings to be overcome are:

    1. Positioning the work item at a height and orientation not suitable for efficient work.

    2. Inadequate fixturing of the item.

    3. Suboptimal provisions for handling parts and materials.

    4. A variety of layout issues.

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    The traditional approach for setting up a workstation is to start with a generic workbench and more or less plunk down the equipment, materials, and tools needed to do the job. A workbench like this can be fine in some settings, like a maintenance shop where a variety of different tasks are performed on different types of items.

    However, when the work involves high-volume production, intricate tasks, or specialized operations, the traditional approach can create hindrances that waste time, lead to defects, and even create long-term disorders like back injuries or shoulder problems.

    It is normally better to design a specialized workstation in these circumstances. The first rule of design — form follows function — applies.  Understand the task and then design for that.

    You must understand the basic principles of human-friendly design to evaluate or design a workstation. Common issues and applications include:

    1.Working position: Awkward positions that reduce efficiency and accuracy of work, plus increase fatigue and strain on the employee, including: Working with a bent or twisted back, elbows away from the body, bent or twisted wrists, bent neck.

    2.Force: Exertion needed to handle materials and use tools.

    3.Height and reach: In this context, these issues are often the root cause of awkward positions.

    4.Motions: Excessive motions to handle materials and operate equipment.

    5.Fatigue: Constant bending, reaching out with the arms, and gripping materials.

    6.Pressure points: Hard edges, such as front of work surface or other protrusions.

    7.Clearance: Sufficient room especially for legs and knees.

    8.Environmental: Quality of lighting, temperature extremes, etc.

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    Step

    Step 1 — Define the optimal height and orientation

    The first step, which is the one most often neglected, is to understand the optimal orientation for the product relative to the employee who does the work. Sometimes the best position for the product is horizontal, but more commonly a product is best accessed when it is on a slant. Likewise, sometimes the product can stay in the same orientation for all the steps of the job, but more commonly different tasks are best done with the product in a different orientation, especially when the product is complex.

    It may not be feasible to provide optimal orientation for each and every step of a job. However, knowing how the product can best be positioned provides your objective. If you don't know what you're aiming for, you can end up creating a workstation that contains inadvertent barriers to production and quality, and in addition causes wear-and-tear injuries among employees.

    Step 2 — Identify a fixture or holder

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    Step 3 — Determine material handling requirements

    Determine requirements and options for parts movement at the workstation. Consider parts movements within the individual workstation and between workstations, including loading and unloading methods, parts presenters, and height relationships within the equipment. Your goal is minimize the time and effort needed to move items around. Equalizing heights can especially be helpful, since it may allow you to slide materials from place to place, rather than needing to pick them up. (See also Ways to improve material handling  and the Material handling knowledge base.)

    Step 4 — Define tool and material needs and their location

    What tools and materials do you need to do the job? What workstation layout do you need so that each item is handy? What storage features right at the workstation do you need, i.e. supports, holders, racks, etc.? You need to define a place for everything and make sure it is in the right place. (See also All about hand tools and the Hand tool knowledge base).

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    Only in these complex process can a workstation be finished making. The process is really complicated, right? We should treasure our workstation.