AIA: Workbenches Mesh With Company Philosophy
Cirtronics Corp. (Milford, NH) is a full-service contract electronic manufacturer, offering prototype through end-product builds of electronic and electromechanical assemblies-with an emphasis on custom circuit boards. In addition to delivering a quality product, the company is dedicated to providing a positive work environment for employees at every level of the organization.
To this end, the privately held company is 20 percent employee-owned, through an employee stock ownership program. Other policies include flexible hours, no forced overtime and 20 paid hours a year for charity work.
When Cirtronics made the move from batch to lean manufacturing, its primary goals were to reduce inventories and turnaround times, improve quality and offer more responsive delivery. As part of the process, the company replaced many of its old, stationary tables with new individual workstations.
In keeping with the way the company operates, Cirtronics team facilitator Irene Lemay had employees test out a variety of workstations for up to 8 months before making a choice. After a trial period, the team decided to purchase 35 Align adjustable-height workstations from Lista International (Holliston, MA), to be used in the assembly, inspection and machining departments.
According to Lemay, "Aesthetics and flexibility were two key traits that swayed the decision toward the Align workstation. Our company founder, Gerardine Ferlins, is very concerned about the aesthetics of the facility. She wants the best possible environment for the staff...The Align bench, painted in Cirtronics light gray, fits our high-quality image."
Lemay adds, though, that looks alone did not close the deal.
"We also came to realize that the Align is much more customizable than the competitive solutions, an extremely important attribute," she says. "We wanted a long-term solution, not a quick fix. The Align bench is a good choice because it can grow with us."
Among other features, bench height can be changed from 25.5 to 41.5 inches, allowing the ideal ergonomic height for each operator, reducing stress, fatigue and personal injury. The Align bench features a three-position memory switch in its motorized frame, making height adjustment nearly automatic, with all uprights and components moving with the work surface height. Leveling glides adjust the work surface up to 1 inch. The workstation can support up to 1,000 pounds.
Beyond that, the overall design of the workbenches serves to optimize both productivity and worker comfort.
"Our old stationary worktables were not ergonomic," says Nancy Guidice, director of human resources and training. "The tables would be covered with bins, which dramatically cut into the available workspace...The overhead lighting was far from the work surface and gave off a lot of glare.
"The Align benches are customized for each worker, both in terms of work surface height and options," Guidice says. "The lighting is completely adjustable and glare-free. The bins are stored on the Align shelves, which is much more efficient than having bins all over the table. We also now use an automatic re-supply system, meaning if one bin empties, there is another bin right behind it that is full of the same part."
A wide range of shelves, parts holders, lights, electrical and air power attachments, tool rails, monitor trays and document holders are available, including variable-angle shelves to feed components toward the operator.
According to Guidice, privacy, safety and communication were other key concerns. "Align privacy panels, which also serve as bulletin boards, helped to address these needs," she says.
For more on workstations, call 800-722-3020, visit www.listaintl.com or eInquiry 1.