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Why automation should work together with workers not replace them

Supplier: Kockums Bulk Systems
11 August, 2017

IndustrySearch talks with Francious Steyn from Kockum Bulk Systems on their history and their advancements in handling technology.

Can you please tell us about the Kockum Bulk Systems history and what you do?

Kockums is an Australian owned engineering company started in 1989 by the owner Ivan Price. Over the years, the company has worked on a number of technologies, which truly aim at improving the factory for both the worker and the owner, we do factory automation, and packing systems, manual handling systems and we specialise in the difficult stuff and (design) complete systems from cradle to grave, from concept to implementation.

 

What advice would you give businesses who haven’t adapted to technology like yours?

What is different about Kockums is the way we do maintenance; we acknowledge the OEM and we have the duty to educate the customer and keep the machine the way it works. When we deliver equipment, we go to the customer and interact with the maintenance team and ensure that they understand exactly what they need to do. We come back every 6 to 12 months to do a check, educate the people and everybody is happy and the machine runs for many years.

 

What are some of the new human factors you are seeing affect workplaces today?

Certainly, we have seen a lot of automation, in our work places. Some of the bigger customers go for full automation which means that the factory worker’s job description changes, it won’t be a blue collared job again but a white collared job with a flip board and a laptop.

For a number of (niche) manufacturers with smaller volumes, the tedious task is done by a machine, but at the end of that, there might be a man standing there extracting boxes from pallets. We feel with a number of cleverly designed manual handling systems, you can keep him employed for a relatively low cost. You need to consider the high cost of employees, if you hurt someone (and he has a back injury), the cost may run into hundreds of thousands of dollars and for a relatively simple amount you can keep that staff at work without hurting him.

For Kockums, it is important that we keep people in steady employment. Not everyone would be a computer technician, by keeping manual labour in there and giving them technology which will enable them to work (do heavy lifting) without getting hurt, means they get employed and productivity will increase. It’s all about fitting the task to the man and not the other way around. Design the task so man can do it without getting injured.