Ergonomics Play Major Role With Equipment Productivity

September 2011, Vol. 66 No. 9

Full-size excavator cabs are larger, have improved noise reduction, and vibration refinements in the cab’s reinforced tubular structures. A rearview camera expands the operator’s visibility, air conditioning performance is improved and the standard air-suspension seat is available with optional 10 memory recall settings.

Trenchers, vibratory plows

Ditch Witch, Richard Levings, senior product manager: Despite advances in trenchless construction technologies, trenchers and vibrator plows remain fast, efficient methods of installing underground cable, pipe, duct and conduit.

The Ditch Witch conception of ergonomics as it applies to trenchers, vibratory plows, and other products is consideration of how an operator interacts with the equipment to do its intended job.

We have worked hard to make operation intuitive so that someone with little or no experience can quickly learn to operate equipment effectively. Color-coded controls are a good example. From the early days through now, the rental industry has been an important market for compact trenchers, and with many rental customers novices at using the equipment, we recognized the importance of making controls easy to understand and use. We devote a lot of engineering to make a product’s operator interface simple and intuitive.

Until a few years ago, small walk-along models had no steering control -- the operator wrestled them into position in order to change the path of the trench. Power steering was introduced to walk-along models which simplifies operation and greatly reduces operator fatigue.

As trenchers and plows evolved from mechanical to hydraulic drive, the machines became easier to use because they no longer had a clutch, gears to shift and other levers to learn. A pedal controls forward and reverse motion.

On riding models, operator stations are designed for comfort and convenience with controls and gauges positioned for ease of use and gauges easy to see and read. The operator can have one hand on the wheel, the other to set and adjust depth and digging chain speeds, making adjustments as soil conditions change. Today’s machines are much easier to run. Larger models have enclosed cabs.

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“Good” ergonomics helps an equipment operator be more productive and be less tired at the end of the day.