The Importance of Ergonomics at Internal Distribution Centre

Background

A North American uniform and work apparel company, with a culture of embracing improved ergonomics throughout their manufacturing plants and distribution network, was looking for a better way to unload trucks and trailers at their main distribution hub.

Receiving and unloading floor loaded boxed product from containers and trailers was done by hand inside the container with a team of 2 workers. They palletized the boxes for removal by forklift to the warehouse. To improve ergonomics the company purchased a powered roller conveyor with an impact table and an inclined conveyor to help transfer product. This intervention helped, but workers still had to use step stools to reach ceiling height boxes or alternatively climb on boxes to handle upper box wall cartons. The conveyor impact section was becoming less reliable, as it had taken abuse from boxes being dropped onto it throughout the years.

The company-wide focus on ergonomics was not a reaction to injury incidents but rather based on their corporate culture of preventing injuries. Their proactive approach identified the inbound receiving dock as having a high probability for injury so the company initiated a justification process for purchasing equipment as an intervention strategy. The justification process assessed the number of motions saved over the course of one year, the number of potential injuries and established dollar value as a cost to the company. The assessed cost was calculated at $1.2 million, leading decision makers to search for an intervention device to reduce the risk of injury for their workers.

 

The Solution

Their search included visiting a trade show that featured solutions for manufacturing and distribution industries. It was there they discovered the Destuff-it™ product line. Discussions with the manufacturers staff led them to schedule a Destuff-it product demonstration at their facility. One year later the company purchased a Destuff-it with a powered roller conveyor to integrate with their existing inclined conveyor.

While health and safety were determining factors when purchasing a Destuff-it, productivity gains of 20% were also recognized in contrast to using a powered roller conveyor. The workers were now capable of unloading 1.5 to 2 more trucks per day, unloading at an average of 900 cases per truck.

Additionally, an anecdotal benefit was reported by personnel operating the Destuff-it. They reported that the Destuff-it machine improved their overall work experience. After a full shift of work they were not as fatigued and sore, which resulted in them having more energy.