Casebook 2011: Ergonomic casters deliver the goods for KIA Motors
While many are replacing carts and manual pulling with lift truck fleets, one company has done just the opposite. And thanks to durable and ergonomic caster technology (Caster Concepts, 517-629-8838, http://www.casterconcepts.com), worker safety and maneuverability have actually increased.
KIA Motors’ new automobile manufacturing plant in West Point, Ga., is filled with miles of conveyors and hundreds of robots. But the classic solution under many of the carts on the assembly line enables a safer, fork-free environment.
When KIA made the decision for parts and components to be pulled by tuggers or manually by operators to the line, it knew back and shoulder injuries could have a dramatic impact on the company’s productivity and profitability. With a firm understanding of these “hidden” costs, the company was determined to find the casters that would provide the best ergonomic results while meeting the durability requirements needed for their just-in-time delivery system.
The automaker tested various designs in side-by-side push/pull testing of a variety of casters. After eight months of rigorous testing, the company selected casters that required 25% less force to move loaded carts than the alternatives. The assembly line is now an environment where lift truck traffic is kept to a minimum to reduce incidents and injuries.
Although the specially designed casters were not the cheapest option, KIA determined that they delivered the best return on investment overall. Since then, several of the company’s suppliers have also chosen the same casters on carts bound for KIA plants.