You might be looking into purchasing your first lift assist device or industrial manipulator. You might be just looking to replace an aging machine. Whatever the case, it’s critical that you consider the long-term value the right machinery can offer — and the expenses you’ll incur if you use the wrong ones.
Whether you’re purchasing a lift assist device or industrial manipulator for the first time, or are looking to replace your aging machines, it’s critical that you consider the long-term value the right machinery can offer — and the expenses you’ll incur if you use the wrong ones.
Let’s look at the many ways a machine can improve — or hurt — your bottom line.
Frequency of employee injuries
Industrial manipulators and lift assists are designed to aide employees in the safe and speedy movement of bulky or heavy materials. In general, companies that install industrial manipulators see a decrease in injuries related to both accidents and employee mistakes. Take Ford, for example. They saw a 70% reduction in assembly line injury rates when they incorporated lift assist technology into their production line safety plans.
Unfortunately, low quality machinery can have the opposite effect, injuring the employees they were designed to protect. For example, if an employee tries to fix an issue with a manipulator on their own — by say, removing an item that is stuck within the grip of the machine — they risk having the item, often heavy or sharp, fall on them.
The risk and cost of these types of injuries is quite high. An injury can result in everything from loss in labor due to time spent away from work to recover, workers’ compensation claims and even lawsuits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries occurred in private U.S. workplaces in 2015. In 2014, employees working in production, transportation and material moving industries spent an average of 12 days away from work because of a job-related injury or illness, a figure higher than any other occupation. Employers in those industries also spent roughly $0.80 per hour worked for workers’ compensation, once again, a higher cost than most other industries.
So, what does this mean for you and your industrial manipulator? The machine you choose should be built to meet safety standards, and the company you purchase from should feel comfortable to discuss the safety record of their machines. Never eschew safety in the search for low prices, as you’re likely to find a machine with a low upfront price tag may come with an increased risk for your employees.
Frequency of downtime
It may sound obvious, but you’ll never be able to predict when your machine will stop working.
No one wants to think about their new machine not functioning properly, but at some point, any machine will need repairs. The difference, of course, is how frequently those repairs are needed, how early on in the life of the machine the issues begin appearing and how costly the repairs will be.
To prevent these periods of costly downtime, you should look for machines built to meet strict quality standards and have long lifespans. Don’t settle for any manipulator or lift assist that’s not able to last at least 15 years with proper use and maintenance. Doing so will result in excessive and costly downtime as a result of repairs and replacement.
Of course, the biggest cost related to your lift assist being down isn’t the repairs or replacements — it’s the revenue you’ll lose from being unable to fulfill your production requirements. If you’re unable to produce your products for hours or days, you face the potential of missing revenue goals and disappointing customers. You might even leave the door open to losing them completely. For the health of your business, you need to carefully consider your manipulator purchase.
Ease and speed of production
A quality industrial manipulator or lift assist should allow you to both simplify and speed up your production process. Unfortunately, this is not true for all machines. In addition to the slowdowns that can be caused by downtime or employee injuries, the design of a machine can have a big impact on how your production moves along.
In general, a custom-built lift assist is superior to an “out of the box” machine, as it will have been designed to work seamlessly with your environment, production materials and employees. A pre-made machine, on the other hand, may not meet the exact specifications you need, resulting in additional work for employees as they try to carefully manage the shortcomings of the machine. These “workarounds” often slow down product at best, and result in costly and avoidable employee injuries at worst.
Depending on the production requirements, having the right equipment can also mean fewer personnel are needed on the assembly line. With fewer employees needed, you can reduce your staffing expenditures or move current employees to other positions where their skills can be put to better use.
Picking the right lift assist or industrial manipulator
So remember, when you’re looking to choose the lift assist or industrial manipulator that will help save your organization money, be sure to ask the following three questions:
- What is the average lifespan of the machine?
- Is the machine designed with safety in mind?
- Is the machine designed to work seamlessly with your unique work environment?
Getting answers to these questions will help you steer clear of money-sucking machines and ensure your work environment is both safe for your employees and operating at peak efficiency.