Introduction

In every workplace, the safety and ergonomics of workers are crucial for ensuring the overall productivity, efficiency, and well-being of a team. Lifting equipment can offer workers an alternative means of moving around their heavy loads, however, most of this equipment is too bulky for practical use, lack sufficient lifting force, or has limited versatility. 

By using high-quality lifting columns and essential accessories for portability, AE Ergonomics offers a safe and convenient solution that every worker can rely on for their positioning and heavy lifting needs. In this case study, we will cover the process, challenges, and solutions the team at AE Ergonomics had undertaken to bring their Custom Ergo Carts to life.

REDUCE WORKPLACE INJURIES BY USING ERGONOMIC LIFTING CARTS!

The Company/ Industry

In September 2020, AE Ergonomics started as a company in Utica, Ohio with James, Lacey, and Troy working together to introduce ergonomic lifting and positioning solutions into the market. Lacey, the sole owner of AE Ergonomics has an extensive background working with insurance companies and fully understands the importance of having the right equipment to mitigate workplace injuries. As a team, they have over 25 years of experience in risk management and approximately 30 years of experience in the ergonomics business from aerospace companies and general industries.

“Our decades of experience in industry and risk management has been combined to offer you ergonomic solutions that put safety above all else.” - AE Ergonomics

By combining their talents, the team has successfully brought together practical cart designs with the portability, versatility, and durability needed to handle various working conditions. These carts by AE Ergonomics are primarily used for the proper lifting of heavy loads without the risk of injuring workers. Their customizable ergonomic lifts and positioning equipment have quickly become highly sought-after workplace solutions for increasing the safety, well-being, and efficiency of workers in physically demanding roles.

Why Choose Progressive Automations

Troy Nelson from AE Ergonomics had a positive experience with using Progressive Automations electric linear actuators in a previous project with his team. During his time previously browsing our website for actuators, Troy also noticed that we offered lifting column sets capable of handling high forces. This later came into mind for Troy as the AE Ergonomics team needed lifting columns for their future projects. Troy found the navigation of our website very simple when searching for the different products his team needed for ongoing projects. Our website layout was detailed and well-organized to indicate our product specifications and datasheets. Troy decided that it was best to contact Progressive Automations for more information on what custom options we could offer to match his requirements as close as possible.

From here, our team had set up Moh to be Troy’s dedicated account engineer. As the B2B Engineer of Progressive Automations, Moh has extensive hands-on experience working with all kinds of electronic equipment and studied in the field of Mechatronics Engineering. Moh’s goal has always been to accommodate our customer’s needs and assist with any technical inquiries for the best service possible.

Since then, Moh has always been informative and helpful to Troy by taking the extra steps of thoroughly investigating the different customizations we could offer for AE Ergonomics. The major selling point for Troy has been our ability to successfully custom manufacture lifting columns to the specifications that best suit his application. Our 18-month warranty also provided the assurance of high-quality products and readily available service that AE Ergonomics can reliably count on.

“The website is great and very easy to find what I'm looking for. Everyone has been great to work with and helped tremendously in getting us the product we need.” - Troy Nelson

The Application

Furniture movers, construction teams, warehouse workers and general laborers all require heavy lifting for their daily roles. Being physically strong and fit can help workers last longer shifts, however, the overtime effect of heavy lifting may eventually result in back pain or muscle fatigue. Popular lifting equipments such as forklifts and pallet jacks are available, however, they may not always meet a user’s needs in certain working conditions. Forklifts are too noisy for entering indoor professional environments and will usually be too large for moving heavy loads in areas that have limited working space. Light and portable pallet jacks typically have a limited height range and still require patience from the user when manually jacking up a load.

Download our Case Study to get an overview in the processes involved in designing a functioning portable heavy-duty lift system

Having the right equipment to mitigate possible workplace injuries allows for improved safety and productivity. With the goal of designing a convenient and versatile solution for workers doing heavy lifting, the AE Ergonomics team was in search of lifting columns and accessories that could offer:

  • Long running times for workers with extended shifts
  • Fast charging capability to ensure carts are readily available
  • Portable design for user convenience in areas with space constraints
  • Durable construction to reliably handle heavy duty tasks
  • Programmable preset positions for users with varying heights
  • Pinch point decals for stylish appearance

The Product

Our “FLT-custom” units are custom manufactured lifting columns with a telescoping design and hall effect sensors. This style of columns allowed for a compact size when fully retracted and ensured compatibility with our other hall effect control options. As custom units, we were able to successfully manufacture the lifting colums to the specific height and weight capacity requirements that Troy was looking for. Powerful motors and high quality aluminum construction ensured each column was capable of handling their rated weight capacity of 450 lbs.

When multiple lifting columns are required to travel synchronously, we recommend columns with hall effect sensors. This is because they have hall effect feedback that goes to a control box which would then be able to make the needed corrections if one side travels at a different speed from the other. Differing speeds can sometimes happen from slightly unequal weight distribution or the speed tolerance from the DC motors (+/- 10%) in the lifting columns. Since the Customizable Ergo Carts are intended to suit as many different customer requirements as possible, a versatile system was needed to accommodate the different configurations for 1 column, 2 columns, or 4 columns per cart.

Paired with our RT-11 remote, the FLTCON series of control boxes allowed Troy to change travel directions of the lifting columns, store preset positions and read the current position through an LED display. The suitable control box will depend on how many columns were required for each custom cart.

The team had also integrated various other parts and accessories to ensure their Custom Ergo Carts were able to meet their customer’s needs including:

  • Lithium-ion batteries for fast charging and longer run times powering the system
  • Swivel casters (four wheels total) for portability
  • Locking rear casters (swivel, directional and total lock)
  • Aluminum or butcher block tops

    Challenges & Solutions

    During the early phases of designing the Ergo-Cart, AE Ergonomics had also tested other lifting column units from different companies. In one case, another manufacturer of lifting columns offered built-in controls that were located inside the lifting column legs themselves. Troy found the feature of not requiring a separate control box quite appealing; however, the manufacturer had poor customer service and charged a higher price for their lift solutions. In the end, Troy determined the added feature of the controls being inside the lifts was not worth getting terrible service and at a higher cost.

    This was when the team at AE Ergonomics received our assistance through Moh who introduced the “FLT-custom” units to match their application needs. Although custom manufactured units have longer lead times compared to standard models, pre-ordering ahead of time and requesting for bulk quantities allowed AE Ergonomics to have sufficient stock of the “FLT-custom” units.

    After all the required parts were acquired, the AE Ergonomics team found the overall building of their first portable cart quite easy and did not run into many issues. In one of their 4-pillar ergo cart builds, there was one case where a column was found to be 1/4" shorter than their other three columns. This resulted in a bind during test operation and had broken some internal parts. The AE Ergonomics team was able to resolve this issue by replacing the shorter column with a replacement that was carefully measured to be the exact same collapsed height as their other three columns. After replacing the shorter column, this 4-pillar ergo cart has continued working fine ever since and has remained to be the only case of an encountered defect from the high volumes of “FLT-custom” manufactured.

    RESULTS

    The AE Ergonomics team were able to successfully introduce their own innovative Ergo-Cart designs into the market. Customers with the Custom Ergo Carts are now enjoying the convenience of portability, high durability and greater workplace safety through our lifting columns which assists with the lifting of heavy loads. AE Ergonomics now offers the option for carts to have custom engravings for an area designation, company logo or asset number. Each Custom Ergo Cart can also be powder coated to a customer’s choice of available colors.

    Below is a video of the Custom Ergo Cart by AE Ergonomics in action:


    Final Word

    By combining high durability materials together with quality lifting columns, the AE Ergonomics team have successfully designed portable heavy duty lift systems that are suitable for their Custom Ergo Carts. This innovative and versatile ergonomic solution offers the means for safer and more convenient methods of handling heavy loads found in physically demanding workforces.

    The teams at Progressive Automations and AE Ergonomics are both excited to continue working together to offer safe and ergonomic lift solutions into the market!

    As one of the top suppliers of electric linear actuators and lifting columns, Progressive Automations offers industry leading flexibility, quality, support, and field experience to meet all your needs. If you have any other questions on what we can offer, please do not hesitate in reaching out to us! We are experts in what we do and want to ensure you find the best solutions for your application.

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