Ergonomic Improvements for the Selkirk Finishing Operation

GE Plastics

GE Plastics Team: (clockwise from top left) Mekkin Lynch, Hannah Portello-Swagel, Rachael Germansky, Katherine Pratt (not pictured)

2004-2005: In collaboration with GE Advanced Materials, this student team assessed material handling operations at the Selkirk (NY) Finishing Plant and designed a solution to minimize ergonomic risk to the operators. Ergonomic improvements increase efficiency by focusing on safety, health and comfort. At the Selkirk facility, ergonomic improvements will increase worker health and efficiency, saving the resources and costs associated with injuries.

The team first reviewed ergonomic analysis tools and assessed handling operations in the transferring, extruding, and packaging departments at the Selkirk facility to identify ergonomic risks to the operators. After choosing box lifting as a project focus area, the team identified ergonomic improvements to the process and eventually selected a “box elevator” concept to develop to a full design. ┬áThe team’s design is powered by an air cylinder and utilizes a pulley system to obtain a 4-to-1 mechanical advantage.

The team built a prototype of their box elevator and sent it to the Selkirk Plant for trial implementation. In addition, the team developed a project implementation plan and recommendations for further improvements to the box elevator design. GE is currently using the team’s prototype in the Selkirk facility and may pursue a patent on the design.