Overhead Handling: Packers floored by ergonomic assist

Burke Flooring installs freestanding articulated jib crane to maintain productivity, as well as improve safety and ergonomics in its manual end-of-line palletizing process.

By ·

Burke Flooring, a large manufacturer of flooring materials, is dedicated to using sustainable materials in its products wherever possible. While the operation is earth friendly, its ergonomic practices were suffering in its manual palletizing process, and reports of worker wrist and shoulder injuries were on the rise.

In Burke’s Orlando area DC, multiple conveyor lines deliver boxes of finished flooring products to packers, who manually pick them up and place them onto lift tables to be palletized for shipping. The boxes can be 4 feet long and weigh up to 50 pounds each. With employees moving close to 8,000 pounds each per shift, palletizing was becoming a weighty problem.

Contributing to the problem was the Florida heat and the manufacturer’s aging workforce, which is about 70% female.

The search was on for a safer, reliable method of unloading the conveyors and building the pallets. “Reliability means you can count on something every day, every shift,” says Jerry Glatz, Burke’s vice president of operations. “Once we open the doors Monday morning, we don’t stop production until Saturday.”

Burke chose a freestanding articulating jib crane (Gorbel, http://www.gorbel.com) with a 150-pound capacity, 9-foot height under boom and 12-foot span. Paired with a vacuum lifter, the articulating arm allows one worker to use a single device to unload two conveyor lines, while reaching around two building columns between the two conveyors.

After the first year, Glatz reports the freestanding articulating jib crane is meeting productivity and safety expectations while minimizing the potential for injuries.  This solution enables workers at “end of line” to do their job more effectively without fatigue being a factor, he says.

Adjusting to the new process was easy. One female operator says, “I’ve been working here for 17 years, and it’s the best improvement we’ve made since I started.  It’s like I’m not even lifting anything anymore.”

Ergonomic workplace solutions keeping older workers safe and productive
There’s a silver tsunami about to wash over the aging U.S. workforce, and the materials handling industry is directly in its path. Here’s a look at our older workers and how ergonomic solutions can keep them safe and productive.


About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Mobile Solutions: Improving Supply Chain Efficiencies
To meet customer's ever-increasing service expectations and improve their business efficiency, companies are looking to their supply chain operations – especially material handling and warehouse operations managers.
Download Today!
From the January 2017 Issue
The lighting manufacturer reaped savings by reducing maintenance costs and product damage, and using labor more productively. The bottom line: A two-year ROI.
Double Up on Labor Efficiencies
7 Warehouse E-commerce Best Practices for 2017
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Webcast: Confronting omni-channel complexity
During this webcast we’ll examine the current activities, trends, and best practices in warehouse and DC operations management and how companies plan to address complex issues associate with omni-channel fulfillment.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Using AGVs at LEDVANCE
The lighting manufacturer reaped savings by reducing maintenance costs and product damage, and using...
System Report: Sustainable Distribution at REI
Specialty outdoor retailer REI’s new distribution center brings together the next generation of...

System Report: Whirpool puts mobile robots to work
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to...
Modern Materials Handling’s 2017 Casebook Collection
The 2017 Casebook features more than 35 case studies that put the spotlight on successful innovation...