Reduction in Injuries Through Postural Changes and Tool Design
Aerospace and Aircraft Manufacturing Confidential Client
Leading multinational manufacturer of commercial and defense aircrafts, spacecrafts, satellites and missiles
- Develop short- and long-term mitigations without affecting manufacturing flow, and physical changes to the product
- Develop trust from workforce and removing the hurdles of “this is how we have always done it”
- Provide training on how to apply force to avoid stress on the shoulders, back, and neck when torquing electrical feedthroughs
- Design tooling that significantly reduces forces and eliminates awkward postures
- Greater than 90 percent reduction in Worker Compensation (WC) claim frequency
- Greater than 30 percent reduction in WC claim costs
- Ergonomic risks factors were reduced by over 65 percent
- Improved overall quality of the installation process
- Designed a tooling system, reducing the labor burden by 50 percent
As part of an outsourcing assignment of a large aerospace manufacturer Apex was assigned a project to investigate and eliminate injuries associated with performing high force manual torque of over 43 electrical feedthroughs of one of the company’s airliner models. In review of the work practices involved, it was discovered that workers were performing these high force exertions in awkward postures and using inadequate tools for the job, which resulted in numerous injuries and lost time annually.
Apex conducted ergonomic evaluations of each electrical feedthrough and evaluated the postures used and interviewed the workers normally conducting these activities. As a short-term mitigation, Apex ergonomists worked with mechanics and electricians on how to effectively position their body to maximize leverage needed to provide the force required to effectively and safely apply the necessary torque to properly seat and bond the electrical feedthroughs. Additionally, Apex ergonomists worked with the client’s engineering team to automate the torquing operation by designing a tool set consisting of 17 different connector sizes and four different torque ranges between 400 to 750 lbs‑in. Since the development of this tool set, this method of torque application has been expanded to other areas of the factory and used on torques as high as 1500 lbs‑in.
Once fully implemented by manufacturing operations, the program has not experienced a recordable injury due to this work process. The concept developed within this specific program by Apex has been introduced in other areas of the enterprise with positive results, and acceptance and has been recognized by both the program and enterprise senior leadership.
Ergonomic risks factors were reduced by over 65 percent, eliminating five of seven high‑risk factors, reducing the remaining two high‑risk factors to moderate and reducing one moderate risk to a low.
Based on injury history for this work process the implementation and use of these tools results in an injury cost avoidance of at least $265,000.
Quality of the work involving these tools has drastically improved, with no bonding failures since tooling was fully implemented. Time on the job and resource allocation has been reduced by 50 percent, allowing for higher levels of productivity within the work cell.