How One Design Can Reduce Industrial Worker Pain and Fatigue by 41 Percent
StrongArm Technologies allows industrial workers, aka industrial athletes, the ability to lift heavy objects safer with more efficient posture. Using the V22 Ergoskeleton, the load of the lifted mass is moved from the arms to the lower back where stronger muscles take the majority of the load.
Additionally, the shape and stiffness of the device encourage the user to lift using proper posture, bending with the knees and keeping the back straight. The result is a 41 percent reduction in pain and fatigue.
Mike Kim, vice president of engineering at StrongArm Technologies explains how the device was designed, optimized and simulated using SOLIDWORKS and how the device can improve the workforce.
SOLIDWORKS CAD and Simulation Abilities Ensured a Manufacturable Product
Kim explained that they have been using SOLIDWORKS since the initial concepts of StrongArm’s device. All 18 injection-molded plastic parts, soft goods and even the aluminum clutch housing was first designed with the SOLIDWORKS platform.
A CAD drawing of their product allowed the StrongArm team to generate a mesh. This mesh was then used to perform simulations that verified the product was manufacturable and able to handle the stresses it would see in the field.
“In terms of optimizing our product, SOLIDWORKS has helped us incredibly,” said Kim. “Once we figured out the CAD design we wanted we took it to manufacturing. However, there is a big chasm between a CAD from a prototype to an industrial manufactured good with injection molding.”
The StrongArm team used SOLIDWORKS Plastics to ensure the product’s draft angles and ability to be injection molded. However, these changes to the product could affect how it would perform structurally in the field.
Fortunately, Kim’s team was able to use SOLIDWORKS’s structural simulation FEA capabilities to assess the product’s performance. He said, “We have been able to optimize our design one for manufacturability and be able to go back and make sure that each iteration will work structurally.”
Let the Customer Guide the Product Design
“We built the device that the [industry] told us they wanted,” said Kim. “With the V22, you have a full range of motion when you are not lifting something. But as soon as you place your hands under an object you will engage the clutches and the load will be transferred away from your hands, into the cords, over the shoulders down the spine and to your waist. This will give you the compression where you need it and shift that load away from your hands.”
It doesn’t take long for the device to help with back issues. After a few seconds you can feel the device correct your posture and ease back pain that you might feel. Kim said, “We realized working with industrial workers in the warehouse they seem very comfortable without any limitation in actual use.”
About the Author
Shawn Wasserman (@ShawnWasserman) is the Internet of Things (IoT) and Simulation Editor at ENGINEERING.com. He is passionate about ensuring engineers make the right decisions when using computer-aided engineering (CAE) software and IoT development tools. Shawn has a Masters in Bio-Engineering from the University of Guelph and a BASc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.