Manual picking from flat and tilted pallet containers
Journal article, 2018
Manual picking operations commonly occur both in distribution settings and within manufacturing industry and may consume large proportions of the working day for operators, with associated potential problems of poor postural ergonomics and low time efficiency. As a remedy to such problems, alternative material layouts like tilted material pallets may be an attractive solution. This study provides quantitative empirical evidence comparing the relative merits and drawbacks of flat and tilted pallet configurations, with regard to physical ergonomic loading and time consumption. This was explored with an experimental setup at the site of an industrial company, where various representative picking operators were observed while emptying flat and tilted pallets. The observation was video recorded and subjected to a time study and Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA). Results showed that there are differences in picking time and physical workload depending on where in the pallet the picking action takes place, and that flat and tilted pallets bring different postural opportunities and challenges for different operator percentiles in the working population. An overview of postural ergonomics consequences and their associated risk levels are shown, and the results serve to further increase the understanding of which factors are affected by choosing between a tilted or flat component presentation. This understanding is highly relevant to industry, where it can contribute to the design of both efficient and ergonomically sound processes for manual picking operations.