Ergonomic assembly requires adequate visibility and illumination of the work area. Products that support this include lights, magnifiers and vision systems.

"Inadequate lighting will force assemblers to shift workpieces or adopt awkward body postures," says Trish Morrison, sales manager at Sunnex Inc. (Natick, MA). "While this may provide temporary relief, it eventually leads to back pains, eyestrain, fatigue, headaches and other ailments."

Traditional fluorescent or incandescent overhead lights can create glare and even make items appear discolored. "Halogen is the closest thing to sunlight," explains Morrison. "It is softer on the eyes, thus reducing eye fatigue."

For good light and energy efficiency, fluorescent lamps may be more effective. "Compact fluorescent lamps are more energy efficient than halogens," claims Gary Cardoza, president of Waldmann Lighting Co. (Wheeling, IL). His company offers 5,000 K cool, fluorescent lamps that closely replicate true daylight.

Magnifying lens mounted on articulating arms make small work easier to view, thus minimizing eye strain. Many magnifiers come equipped with a fixed light source such as a circular, fluorescent tube. A rotational lens that is independent of the light source is also available.

"There is no need to slouch when using this system," says Cardoza. His company's Omnivue features two light sources that can use up to three 9-watt compact fluorescent lamps. A dual switch adjusts the lighting level to suit the task.

To bring the work out from under a microscope or stereoscope, thus eliminating hunched workers, assembly supervisors may opt for a vision system. "When you look through a microscope for long periods of time, you eyes become fatigued, regardless of the quality of the lens," says Morrison. Vision systems provide a larger field of view than a microscope and the vision head can be positioned to all types of angles.

Any lighting system should feature robust construction with arms that maintain a steady position despite frequent readjustments. "Goosenecks allow the worker to maneuver and reposition the light output to where it's needed and move into the right angle," Morrison points out.

Sunnex gooseneck lamps feature a brass-plated arm that lasts more than 10 years. The arm is covered in a polyurethane sleeving to protect the lamp construction from damage in environments with lots of dust or oil. "The sleeve is also scratch- and moisture-resistant," claims Morrison.

Many lamps come with swivel joints featuring 360-degree axial rotation and 90-degree angular rotation. "This allows the worker to reposition the lamp using the head and the gooseneck to optimize the lighting," says Morrison.

Base types are also an important consideration. Some lamps allow assemblers to use a clamp, portable stand, table base, grommet mount or wall mount for flexibility.