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Practical Application of Ergonomics is Possible

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January 23, 2013

Practical Application of Ergonomics is Possible

By Amanda Ciccatelli, TMCnet Web Editor

Ergonomics means the science of work, so ergonomists study work, how work is done and how to improve work. Ergonomics is very useful when it comes to making work better, which involves making things comfortable and efficient.

Typically, ergonomics is thought of in terms of products, but it can also be useful in the design of services or processes. Users typically want to know, “How can I use the product or service, will it meet my needs, and will I like using it?” Ergonomics helps define how it is used, how it meets your needs and most importantly if you like it.

Today, ergonomists can help retailers provide safe, comfortable and efficient equipment throughout the retail chain in order to achieve above average customer service. Areas that benefit from ergonomics include the design of checkouts, counters, hand-held devices such as chip and pin machines and self-service equipment.

Specifically, ergonomic design of cabinets ensures customers can see and reach merchandise which is being kept in perfect condition, while staff find it easy to clean, load and maintain. Additionally, ergonomic backroom design ensures staff can move merchandise onto the sales floor easily.

One company, Retail Handling Solutions, is revolutionizing ergonomic retail products handling. For almost a century not a lot has changed in how retailers stock shelves as the process is labor intensive, with a ton of productivity road blocks and the potential for injury, product breakage and customer inconvenience.

Another company, Southworth International Group, wants to make work faster, safer and easier. Over the years, it has developed equipment that provides the benefits of the practical application of ergonomics in the manufacturing industry. Its divisions have been recognized for application engineering, product offerings, and adaptability to exact customer requirements. Recently, Southworth has extended its focus to include the opportunity repetitive handling requirements of retail operations.

Store goods are handled multiple times, in awkward positions and most operations are done over and over again, so safety problems are a big issue. Recognizing that retail store operations are different from manufacturing and warehousing, Retail Handling Solutions was created to concentrate the application of ergonomics on the circumstances of the retail work environment.  

Limited space, high volumes, thin margins, packaging necessities, and consideration for shoppers require a unique approach to optimizing the productivity and safety of these stock handling applications.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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