MOLINE, IL—Numerous carts are used to move parts and materials along assembly lines. But, because each cart is often touched by hundreds of operators a day, they are also efficient movers of the coronavirus

After receiving a note from his manager asking for ideas on how to achieve a “clean manufacturing environment,” Jason Sherron, an assembly manufacturing engineer at John Deere Turf Care in Fuquay-Varina, NC, took up the challenge. The facility produces a variety of mowers and other types of equipment used by grounds care professionals.

“My goal,” Sherron told John Deere Journal, the company’s in-house magazine, “was to find a way to make the handles safe.” The result was PUSH (Personal Use Safety Handles). Sherron retrofitted a piece of 1.5-inch diameter PVC pipe, cut a 5-inch segment and slipped it over an assembly cart handle.

The next step was to find a way to keep the PVC pipe from sliding too far down the assembly cart handle, exposing part of the handle to be touched by an employee. Sherron fit the 5-inch segment of PVC pipe with an end cap, which solved the problem. To prevent the PVC pipe segment from being handled by more than one employee, Sherron made a set of handles for each employee.

Material handlers slide their own handles over the assembly cart handles to move the cart and then remove their handles once they’ve moved to the next workstation. According to Sherron, the handles are easy and inexpensive to produce, require virtually no instructions and can be used on almost any manual assembly cart anywhere in the world.