Lift Tables vs. Tilt Tables: Which is right for your application? Both improve the fit between workers and the tasks they must complete, which is the core of ergonomics. By adjusting loads to a more agreeable height or angle, these positioning tools reduce injuries, conserve human energy, and increase productivity.
These adjustments can have tremendously positive effects on worker health and overall productivity. But which equipment should employers choose? Let’s take a look at some applications where lift tables and tilt tables can help out.
Lift Tables raise or lower loads to a comfortable height vertically, without bringing them closer to or further away from the user (unless, of course, users implement rotating tabletops).
Applications for this technology are wide and varied, as many industries benefit from using powered equipment to lift and lower loads. Here are a few basic tasks that lift tables can make simpler or less stressful on workers:
Loading/unloading pallets (especially with the Pallet Carousel & Skid Positioner)
Positioning heavy equipment for manufacturing or maintenance
Adjusting assembly lines stations for different worker preferences
Transferring materials from one level to another
Transporting heavy office equipment (with mobile lift tables)
Many users depend on Lift Tables with Ball Transfer or Roller Conveyor surfaces to raise raw materials for transfer into manufacturing machinery. In these cases, the lift table allows a worker to move a heavy load as close to its destination without hazardous bending or lifting.
Other manufacturers and material handling applications use Lift Tables to create variable-height workstations. Every worker has a slightly different ergonomic “golden zone,” depending on their height and personal preferences. The golden zone typically refers to the area between the waist and shoulders, where handling materials is the least stressful, and keeping work within this area can prevent serious injuries for manual tasks.
By using Lift Tables to position their work ergonomically, multiple employees can share the same workstation without compromising anyone’s health or comfort. In these cases, the lift table might only be raised or lowered a few inches, but the ergonomic benefits are enormous, particularly for assembly line workers, order packers, and other staff who perform manual tasks.
Tilt Tables rotate the angle of a load to improve access or height.
In some applications, tilting a load toward or away from the user can provide a better ergonomic benefit than simply lifting or lowering it. Common applications for Tilt Tables include:
Packing/emptying bins, boxes, and barrels
Assembly or maintenance of heavy equipment
Sorting small parts
Ergonomic work positioning
A manufacturer that builds appliances must have access for assembling panels and other parts on all sides of the product. A tilt table allows a worker to safely adjust the angle of the product so that different areas can be reached without kneeling, bending, or reaching uncomfortably.
Tilt tables are also extremely useful for material handling. They reduce the amount of energy and reaching needed to pack a box by allowing workers to move products straight into a box (rather than having to lift them above the side repeatedly). Of course, the same principles apply to unpacking as well. Tilting goods to 45 degrees can greatly speed up the workflow while improving ergonomics.
How do managers decide what powered equipment is the best fit?
Like with any ergonomic improvement, managers should observe the current workflow. Find those areas where workers are wasting energy by reaching, bending, and twisting. Those are potential bottlenecks that a powered load positioner could eliminate.
Communication with staff is key to this process. By asking them where improvements could be implemented, management can gain important insights and improve worker morale.
After identifying problem areas, determine whether raising and lowering or tilting loads will remove the stressful manual tasks. Next, choose between mobile and stationary positioning equipment — are you building a permanent workstation, or does your positioner need to move throughout the facility?
Lastly, decide if specialized tabletops like drum tilters or turntables could improve workflow even more. Creative applications of both Lift Tables and Tilt Tables can make a warehouse run more safely and more efficiently.
“Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling.” CDC. California Department of Industrial Relations, 2007. PDF. 13 Nov. 2017.
Rogers, Lorie. “Ergonomics: Lift tables carry heavy equipment.” MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 11 May 2011. Web. 13 Nov. 2017.