Conveyor Conversations: Ergonomics

Conveyor Conversations: Ergonomics

Conveyor Conversations: Ergonomics

A conveyor system designed with proper ergonomics creates a better work environment, increases productivity, and reduces operator injuries. A careful workforce examination will determine what makes the most sense for each unique conveying operation.

In most warehouses and distribution centers the entire work process revolves around the conveyor. Its height, width, speed, and position in relation to the worker modify the overall workload and the way workers perform their job. Conveyor ergonomic and design issues must be considered; obvious elements are not always followed. For example, if the tasks at the conveyor require wide-ranging bodily motion and/or physical exertion, then the work should be done from a standing position. Conveyor height should be determined by the degree of exertion required and the dimensions of the objects being worked upon. Most conveyors have a fixed height surface and it is recommended to fix the belt to a height suitable for the tallest workers, and to provide adjustable working platforms or chairs for shorter workers.

The width of the conveyor should be chosen so that the reaching distance for repetitive movements is within 45 cm (18 in) from the front of the operator’s body. Regardless of whether they work while sitting or standing, workers should have adequate knee and leg clearance.

Aisles should be wide enough so that the workers could perform their tasks without obstruction. Small racks or shelves for containers should be within easy reach; containers should be tilted to avoid repetitive awkward movements.

The pace of a conveyor should be set between the capabilities of the most- and least -skilled worker; the highest speed should not exceed 10 m/min. For assembly work, the workers should have some control over the pace of their tasks.

Consider installing anti-fatigue matting; it may alleviate tiredness and feet problems that might arise from working long hours on hard floors. Even if the work is done from only one side, the conveyors should be accessible from both sides. This is for maintenance, housekeeping, and emergency situations.

It is imperative to know system requirements such as how are orders being picked and introduced to the system and at what rate. A careful calculation about how the picking rate relates to the packing or processing rates downstream is vital data along with how many orders must be shipped over time, in a week, and in a day.

Alfacon Solutions’ engineers help customers determine the types of conveyors that are appropriate and assist in identifying where accumulation is required in the system. By determining design speeds, warehouse and fulfillment operations are ensured a rate and throughput requirements that can be met by the conveyor system.


Alfacon Solutions ( will be exhibiting at MODEX 2018 April 9-12, 2018 in Atlanta, GA at booth #B637 and presenting an educational seminar called Adaptive Conveying on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM in Theater I. The presentation will provide attendees an overview of a configurable conveying solution and how to integrate conveying solutions into automated vehicles. John Murdoch is CEO of Alfacon Solutions; a thought-leader in both the manufacturing and materials handling sectors and leveraging more than a quarter century of experience, Murdoch brings a unique perspective to engineered material handling solutions and the role of automation. Schedule a face-to-face meeting with Murdoch at Schedule a face-to-face meeting with Murdoch at