A focus on innovation, improved productivity, and ultimately, promoting effective solutions to protect associates from ergonomic risks defined the finalists of the third annual Timken ErgoCup Challenge. Four plants—selected as finalists from a pool of nearly 60 entries—presented new tools and improved processes.
The 2013 Timken ErgoCup finalists were:
- Faircrest Canton, Ohio – “trumpet” brick manipulator
- Colmar, France – smooth, hands-off transfer process
- Los Alamitos, California – ball bearing angular contact load table
- Sosnowiec, Poland – process for dismantling heater elements
A panel of five executive judges, representing Timken and Humantech (Vice President Josh Kerst) were tasked with determining which of the four finalists’ inventions was the “best of the best” for 2013. After listening to the presentations and conducting a thorough deliberation, the judges selected the Faircrest Steel Plant in Canton as the 2013 champion, citing its performance in five important categories: risk reduction, innovation, simplicity, cost savings and presentation quality.
Faircrest’s innovative solution was the internal development of a brick manipulator that utilized a mechanized rack and positioning tool designed to move and stack heavy cylindrical “trumpet” bricks that make up the instrument into which molten steel is poured to fill the ingot molds. The bricks, each 7 to 12 inches tall and weighing 15 to 17 pounds, previously were lifted, carried and stacked by hand to heights exceeding 7 feet which resulted in numerous ergonomic risks.
“We have to credit the success of this project to our entire team getting engaged, getting to the root cause of a seemingly unsolvable safety concern, and developing a truly inventive solution that is reducing risks and virtually eliminating related injuries,” said Rob Feielin, Faircrest plant manager. “We pride ourselves on maintaining a focused safety culture at our plant, and this project is a clear indicator of that culture at work.”
“After three years, ErgoCup continues to draw a high level of interest,” said Alan Oberster, vice president of EHS. “The quality and results of the entries continue to improve, and the selection of a winner gets more difficult every year, which is a nice problem to have.”
“If you look at our injury history over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a drastic reduction in our lost-time accident rates and recordable injuries, and we continue to focus on being a world-class safety organization,” Alan said. “The enthusiasm and commitment we see every year for the ErgoCup is a great sign that we won’t be satisfied until we reach ZERO injuries.”