The food industry is brimming with innovation and advancements, from the latest cutting-edge equipment to smart solutions that improve efficiency. Tool balancers are ideal for food production lines because they offer a variety of advantages that keep productivity at its peak.
Especially in the food manufacturing industry, where output, productivity, and safety are of utmost importance, there are several valuable benefits to be gained from tool balancers. But before we dive into the top advantages of tool balancers in food industry lines, here's what you need to know about tool balancers.
Tool Balancer 101: What You Need to Know
Tool balancers find application in a variety of contexts, including food and beverage production, meat processing, the dairy industry, bakery, and confectionery, not to mention industrial washing and sanitizing.
Some tool balancer and tool retractor manufacturers such as Tecna, makes product lines specifically for the food industry. These balancers will feature things like aluminum housing resistant to oxidation and chemicals such as soaps and detergents, rustproof and stainless steel exterior and interior materials, food grade grease, food grade rope guide, shock absorber, and wire cap.
Tool balancers are a type of lifting mechanism that helps balance and support heavy, awkward items or tools in the workplace. They use adjustable tension springs with cables to distribute weight evenly over a wide area, reducing strain on workers' bodies which can lead to operator fatigue, injuries, and decreased productivity.
Air tools are also becoming more common in food industry lines, and tool balancers can also be used to support their operation. Air tools require less manual effort from workers, allowing them to work faster and more efficiently without compromising safety. With air-powered tools, it's imperative to have a tool balancer in place that can provide the necessary support and adjustability for optimal performance.
By using a tool balancer to support tools like meat saws or bone cutters at various heights and angles - allowing workers to have precise control over their work - tool balancers enhance worker safety and efficiency in almost any industrial setting.
Types of Ergonomic Tool Balancers in a Food Processing Line
Spring balancers use an adjustable and retractable spring mechanism that is designed to suspend and hold tools in place. The tool hangs at a fixed location without the need for manual adjustment. Spring balancers provide constant tension, allowing for a safe working environment and ease of use.
Many specialty spring balancers are specifically designed for food processing lines. These balancers hold tools in place while keeping them away from moving parts, as well as helping to minimize tool wear.
Zero Gravity Balancers
Zero gravity design permits any load to remain in a "floating" position and can be effortlessly maneuvered. This minimizes the risks of accidents, ensuring greater safety for all people present in your workspace.
Retractor Tool Balancers
Retractable tool balancers are devices that help to hold a tool in place. The tool hangs slightly below the head of the balancer. When the operator wants to use it, they pull down on the device to unwind the cable inside and bring the tool to bear.
The cable is under continuous pressure from an internal spring, meaning that when the operator lets go, the tool will return automatically to its resting position.
5 Advantages of Tool Balancers in Food Industry Lines
1. Enhanced Safety
According to AmTrust, strains remain not only the most prevalent but also the costliest form of injury in food production sites. Strains make up 27% of all claims and account for over 31% of the total payout.
One of the reasons why strain injuries can be costly is because they often affect multiple body parts, leading to a significant portion of workers' compensation claims. In particular, injuries to the lower back account for the second-highest expenses in terms of claims paid out.
Food manufacturing encompasses a range of manual material handling tasks, such as lifting and moving objects, as well as pushing and pulling equipment. These actions can potentially result in musculoskeletal disorders and strain/sprain injuries, explained Woody Dwyer, the Director of Loss Control at AmTrust and a certified professional ergonomist.
That said, tool balancers promote safety on the production line by reducing the risk of injuries caused by the weight of objects being lifted or handled. Zero gravity balancers, in particular, are designed to adjust the weight of suspended tools to match the strength of the operator.
This allows workers to do repetitive motions with ease, reduces worker fatigue, provides easy handling of heavy tools and loads, enables comfortable operation, and of course, avoids injury-causing exertion.
By providing a safe and efficient system for lifting, moving, and handling items, tool balancers help keep the assembly area or food production lines running without any risks to staff members.
A recent review by AmTrust Financial revealed a significant 13% decrease in common injuries such as strains, cuts, and falls at food manufacturing sites in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels. This improvement demonstrates the positive impact of safety measures implemented during this period.
2. Increased Production Efficiency
With more than 600,000 companies competing in the food and beverage industry, staying ahead of the competition has never been more crucial. In addition, competition arises as a result of the need to secure consumer spending, navigate shrinking margins, balance fluctuating material prices, and effectively manage operating costs. Considering all these factors, prioritizing efficiency becomes paramount in establishing a sustainable business.
Now, in assembly lines that form a key part of food manufacturing, tool balancers can help maximize output by reducing setup time and increasing speed on the assembly line.
Moreover, having the right tool balancer can increase the accuracy of production and reduce errors due to fatigue or poor operating conditions. This in turn helps ensure better quality products leave the assembly line as well as fewer returns/complaints from customers.
3. Reduced Risk of Product Damage
Work accuracy contributes to product quality and is a major determining factor in the success of any food production line. Errors in each stage can lead to damaged products, wrong measurements, or other issues that can reduce customer satisfaction.
Tool balancers help ensure accuracy by providing a safe, stable environment for lifting and positioning tools. This prevents operators from misplacing or dropping parts due to heavy weight or awkward maneuvers, both of which could potentially cause damage to products on the assembly line.
Moreover, having a tool balancer also ensures less product handling and smoother workflows throughout the production process. This reduces the risk of damaging goods due to mishandling or improper operations. Overall, you can expect fewer defects in food items leaving the factory.
For example, in the meat processing industry, tool balancers help keep knives at the ideal height for slicing and cutting, all without creating a risk of damaging products or making mistakes that can lead to losses or worse–accidents.
Moreover, tool balancers provide a higher level of control when it comes to handling fragile items such as shrink wrap and packaging materials. This helps prevent any accidental breakages which can often lead to costly losses.
4. Improved Working Conditions
The importance of ergonomics cannot be underestimated when it comes to food production lines. In addition to preventing injury, it also helps improve job satisfaction among workers and encourages them to take pride in their work.
Workplace accidents typically result in costly compensation claims, absences, and temporary replacements. All of which can have a severe impact on operations and lead to increased stress, lower morale, and overall dissatisfaction within the team.
In this regard, tool balancers provide an excellent solution in terms of ergonomics as they are designed to reduce fatigue and improve comfort levels for operators. Since tool balancers are designed with ergonomics in mind, they provide enhanced comfort and convenience for operators doing repetitive tasks.
In essence, these balancers allow operators to handle tools more precisely with less effort resulting in a safer working environment.
5. Cost Savings
Having a tool balancer installed in a processing line may be a major investment but presents several cost-saving benefits that can make the initial outlay worthwhile.
First, the elimination of workplace injuries or accidents can save businesses a considerable amount of money in medical bills and insurance premiums. You can also avoid any investments in capital equipment replacements as well as minimize damage to products due to improved accuracy and precision.
Second, tool balancers reduce setup time and increase efficiency on the production line leading to higher output rates with fewer resources. This reduces labor costs and helps streamline operations resulting in cost savings.
Moreover, standardizing assembly lines with tool balancers leads to improved safety and consistency during the production process. True balancers make heavy tools virtually weightless, allowing for faster cycle times and ensuring that the tool's movements are always precise and accurate.
This is particularly important with tools like heavy meat saws. This minimizes the need for frequent adjustments, calibrations, and maintenance cycles, which can add up over time.
In short, investing in quality tool balancers provides long-term benefits with significant cost savings over time. This makes them an essential piece of equipment for any food production line that emphasizes safety, accuracy, and overall efficiency.
Overall, investing in tool balancers can offer various benefits for food manufacturing lines ranging from increased efficiency and cost savings to improved working conditions and reduced risk of product damage. While it may require an initial outlay, the long-term benefits of having tool balancers on the production line make them well worth the investment.