Engel improves operator ergonomics, thus boosting productivity

To be able to handle these tasks in the best possible way, a package of accompanying measures has been implemented. On the one hand, the ENGEL Training Centre has added new course modules, on the other hand, the user interface and control panel have been optimised. On top of this, a decision was made to shift the terminal closer to the operator and to invite the operator to communicate with the machine. The aim was to facilitate controls as a whole, thus reducing error rates. This meant giving ergonomic aspects priority over aspects of mechanical engineering functionality. The task of implementing this project was assigned to Peschke Design from Vienna.

One major factor in the specifications document was that of improving control safety. This included both a logical, and at the same time convenient, layout of critical controls, and a clear, at-a-glance arrangement. To facilitate working at the control panel with the operator's sights firmly fixed on the control elements, the screen, the injection mould or other machine components, the elements were arranged in line with the sequence hierarchy and frequency of use. To make it as easy as possible for users to move to the new system, most pictograms and the layout of the traditional logic of earlier generations of control units was kept.

Easy identification of functions is just as essential to easy operations as the ability to customise the operating situation to the size of the operating staff. To ensure a relaxed working position for the operator the ability to adjust the whole terminal was important. Measures for reducing interference from light effects (dazzling, mirroring) were a further important design criterion.

The results are impressive. The new control panel not only offers easier and
more intuitive programming of machine functions, but reduces the physical load
on the operator thanks to its ergonomic design which more closely reflects the human physique. The results are a measurable boost in productivity, less accidents and sick leave, as well as less operator errors. The ability to visualise quality is another useful effect. Design and ergonomics communicate quality in a universal language that does not need any further explanation. An important step towards improving human/machine communications has been taken, and work on further steps is in progress.