One of the fastest growing trends in equipment design for the construction industry is operator comfort. Managers know that with increased comfort comes increased productivity. It can be argued that too much comfort can cause a distraction; however, not enough can lead to injuries, mistakes, and loss of motivation.
Some of the new features contractors can find in construction equipment today include adjustable controls, heated seats, better visibility, vibration reduction, and enclosed cabs. Dave Wolf, brand marketing manager for Case Construction Equipment, explains that operator comfort is one of the key imperatives developed in all new Case equipment. “These adjustments are all implemented to reduce the stress of an operator,” says Wolf. One of the new enhancements Case products feature is adjustability. The operator can adjust the seat—which includes the arm rest, air ride support, and lumbar support, as well as the seat temperature. The steering wheel can be moved up or down, as well as in or out. The cabs feature ventilation that refreshes the air or auto climate control systems that condition the air to exactly the operator's comfort zone. Doors and windows can be opened fully, or slightly, to allow for better air circulation. Reducing an operator's stress not only leads to more productivity, but it prevents accidents, reduces mistakes, and increases overall morale.
Another consideration is operator visibility. Not only is it a safety concern, but increased visibility enables the operator to perform faster and more efficiently. Wolf describes their enhancements for visibility as a stress reliever. “We have added maximum visibility with floor to ceiling glass, and implemented a redesign of the cab structural components that strengthen and narrow the cross section to increase the glass area. In addition, we've contoured the rear hoods to increase visibility to the side.” Without being able to see everything in front, in back, or to the side, it's hard to avoid hitting something.
The next component of operator comfort is reduced vibration. Operators of heavy construction equipment are exposed to whole-body vibration, which can lead to a variety of risk factors and health problems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry has been recognized historically as having high rates of injury and illness. The Case cabs are mounted in a manner to reduce the vibration transferred onto the operator platform. In addition, they have ride control that allows loader arms to act as shock absorbers, further reducing vibration on operators and equipment. Cushioned cylinders eliminate the shock and vibration at the end of the stroke.
The cab's ergonomic design also helps eliminate operator fatigue. Case has added insulation and sealing of the cabs to eliminate noise levels, both inside and out. The equipment also features cabs that position functional switches within the reach and sight line of the operator, low effort responsive controls, brake pedals that are positioned at the correct angle and require minimum effort, and single-lever multiple functioning joystick controls that condense operator movement and positioning—reducing operator fatigue.
With the construction industry as competitive as it is, it is important to keep in mind that it is the operators that get the job done, and their comfort is not only important for faster, more efficient production, but for their health and safety as well. Comfort continues to play an increasingly important role in equipment design, and equipment manufacturers continue to make more enhancements to meet the demand.
For more information contact Case Construction Equipment at 262-636-6011, www.casece.com.
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