The problem: A bladder that holds raw product has a plug that is difficult to remove creating the risk of injury and inefficiencies on the line.

The solution: Manufacture a tool to assist lab technicians with the safe and efficient removal of the plug.

The result: The food producer was able to reduce the risk of injury by providing a removal tool for workers to use to perform the task.

The Problem

Factory workers must regularly test raw and finished product in the lab for quality assurance. Some raw product is contained in large bladders which have a sealed cap. Laboratory workers must access these from the refrigeration area of the plant, remove the sealed cap to take samples, then replace the cap before taking the sample back to the lab for testing.

The manufacturer of the totes provided a tool however it is designed to remove the cap with the assumption that the tote would be emptied and recycled. Therefore the tool damaged the cap making it such that it could not be used to reseal the container after acquiring samples for testing.

Workers were using hand tools to pry the cap off of the bladders putting them at risk of injury, damaging the seal on the cap, or possibly contaminating the product contained in the bladder. As well, due to the difficulty of removing and replacing the cap, lab technicians would often require assistance from nearby workers in other departments to perform this task safely.

The Solution

Thompson Machine and Tool worked with the manufacturer to fabricate a tool that would allow for the safe removal and reinstallation of the cap on the bladders that materials are shipped in.

We first obtained the neck of a disposed bladder so our team could understand the dimensions and workings of the cap. Working with our designer, we designed a puller that would allow the cap to be easily removed and replaced without putting workers at risk of injury.

Material selection for the tool was critical as it is a food manufacturing facility so materials and processes must fit within these regulated standards. Wanting the tool to be lightweight, yet strong enough to perform the task we built the tool using aluminum.

To make it easier for lab technicians to perform the task independently, without the assistance of other staff, we created an adaptor to allow the tool to fit on a cordless power tool therefore requiring less physical exertion to remove the cap.

After testing the apparatus in our shop on sample bladders, the tool was given to workers to use and some training was provided for in the field testing. Some adjustments needed to be made as the device overextended the travel and a shear pin broke.  We modified the device to ensure that over tightening could not happen.

The Result

The tool we built has been able to assist workers with safely and easily removing and replacing the cap on bladders. Greater efficiencies have been established because lab technicians can now complete this task safely without the assistance of other team members.

Worker safety is paramount. The risk of injury has significant implications on the bottom line and employee morale. Being on the lookout every day for potential safety hazards can minimize risk, but what happens when a hazard is discovered? If you’re a manufacturer and need to address some safety hazards we can help. Request a consultation today.

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