One of the most lasting and surprising impacts of some worldwide event that shall not be named is the dramatic labor shortage that is being experienced across most industries. Why this continues to be such an ongoing and significant problem is a topic of some (but not much) debate. Alas, this is not a political blog, so we’re not going to discuss the opinions about how we got here, but rather focus on solutions and how this problem can be overcome. The bottom line is that many companies are hindered in returning to full capacity because there are simply not enough staff to perform the necessary production operations.
For all of us involved in manufacturing and distribution operations that are not conducive to the work from home movement, we have to get the real work done and we have to do it faster, getting more done with less resources than ever before. This calls for addressing some of the human factors that sometimes settle below our attention. This includes ergonomic issues like minimizing bending, twisting and stretching by providing work positioning lift tables or lift and tilt tables to bring the load to the worker. Even when handling small or lightweight pieces, the repetitive and/or straining motions can cause fatigue and loss of productivity.
Machine feeding or accumulating is another common application where a worker or multiple workers are required to manually handle some materials, sometimes large awkward items, to load or unload machines. This can have a double benefit, potentially freeing up a second operator to be productive elsewhere while at the same time allowing the remaining operator to work more efficiently, with less strain and fatigue. Simple lift table accessories like an Automatic Height Gauge are great companions to these functions because the operator doesn’t even have to push a button. The work positioning lift table can automatically raise as material is removed or lower as material is added to the platform.
Besides lift tables and work positioning devices, workstation cranes can be amazing for productivity. Workstation cranes empower operators to handle their own small lifts and not wait on an overhead crane or fork lift to help them, and not risk the strain or potential injury of attempting to lift something that might be at the edge of reasonable manual exertion. Who are we kidding? Sometimes it might be so far past the edge of reasonable manual exertion that you no longer can see that edge in the rear view mirror! A light floor mounted crane, mobile crane, or portable workstation crane can be a tremendous time-saver and productivity booster for a much more affordable cost than some of the heavier lift equipment that it would depend on otherwise.
These are just a few examples out of many that can help us do more with less. They are all designed to improve the experience of the operator, making the job easier so they can get more done. When there aren’t as many operators around to do the job by brute force or using as much time as it takes, we have the opportunity to make it happen in other ways. And these ways are more beneficial to the same operators and to the business as a whole, so when we return to certain times, we find we made the right investment for the long term.