The mobility and flexibility that these changes bring are invaluable to manufacturers. However, with these benefits come ergonomic and safety challenges, often not considered early in the specification or design stages.
Here are a couple of working examples of issues facing production staff with the increase in mobile equipment:
A 1000L bioreactor is now mobile with castors – excellent for reconfiguring as required, but how will it be moved?
A couple of members of production staff will probably be able to just about move it, if necessary, at the expense of their physical wellbeing.
New chromatography columns in your suite are fitted with castors – allowing you to scale production up or down as required or reconfigure your set-up, but the column weighs circa 14,500kg. How will it be moved?
Expecting 4-5 Process Engineers to manhandle the column each time it needs to be moved is dangerous and counteracts the benefits of having the equipment mobile in the first place.