Dry powder robotic make up and finished goods handling system.
Best solution to a workplace health and safety issue - 2011 Awards
Manual make up of powder coating premix had operators using manual bag lifters handling over 560 bags a day, a robotic solution was proposed by Murray Ross of Orica Shared Services working with the business steering committee and Robotic Automation for over two years to design, build, install and commission a tailored engineering solution.
The hazard was having operators manually handling and cutting open 25 kg bags of raw material and feeding them into either a 250kg or 500kg mixing hopper on 12 hour shifts, the system was designed to cater for 95% of our raw material requirements with testing of handling these materials with robotics and feed rate testing via an integrated dispensing system which now results in a sustained reduction in exposure between 85 and 95%.
Any situation that involves the handling of a variety of palletised raw materials could potentially utilise a system in much the same way.
Contribution to the State of Knowledge
This is an engineering solution based on the fact that is primarily robotics which are a designed Category 4 safety system under the requirements of AS4024 safety of machinery, and meet the highest level of safety standards required by Victorian Plant Regulations 2007.
Employees were represented by both production supervisor and employee delegate on the project steering committee. Employees were consulted on the changes and process of the robotics, they were actively involved in the commissioning phase and subsequent manufacturing process requirements were discussed and where possible the workings of the system were tailored to meet these requirements to allow for minimal disruption the operators. The Employees were informed about the benefits of the system and reduction in manual handling injury risks.
The system monitors the amount of bags handled and measures utilisation rates of the system opposed to total volume of production achieved on a daily basis. The reduction of injury risks is apparent as the employees are handling minimal 25kg bags and the further complimented by additional manual handling devices in powered tugs to move the hopper bowls around the factory area. The business has not encountered a manual handling injury since the introduction of the robotics systems.
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