Traditionally, benches have been assessed purely in terms of mechanical criteria. They should be stable, able to withstand loads and offer some flexibility so they can be adapted for different types of work. Workers should also be able to complete their work safely and quickly.
Although most of the work bench systems that are available today satisfy these requirements, many suppliers have given less consideration to other ways that efficiency can be improved. This is where the real challenge lies – sound, functional design.
Ergonomics for health
The key question is this – why are work benches in industrial companies so rarely designed to be ergonomic? Constrained postures, obstructed views and bad lighting often make work more difficult and reduce efficiency, particularly where all these factors combine.
Poor working practices cause stress and strain – and ultimately make workers sick. By contrast, ergonomics protects the health of employees, significantly reduces illness rates and boosts efficiency. For many years, the Campaign for Healthier Backs (AGR e.V.) has been championing the cause of ergonomics in the workplace and celebrating products that meet the highest standards in this area.
Ergonomics for motivation
All this has a direct impact on working sequences and processes. If personnel understand a workflow intuitively, it will quickly become an effective routine. Custom modifications can also be made in next to no time and, if production requirements change, setup time is kept to a minimum. Indeed, personnel can usually make the necessary adjustments themselves. This also boosts their personal engagement with their work, which has benefits on a psychological level.
Content precedes design
“Design without content is decoration” that’s how web designer Jeffrey Zeldman put it in 2008. A work bench system that is wonderful, but doesn’t work, has no chance on the market. However, the latest findings in psychology and medicine show that it’s time we spoke more about these aspects of design.
In the 1960s, a metalworking production hall would be dark and dirty. But what does it say about a company, when it leaves its workforce to toil in sad, dingy environments? Again, it was only when studies revealed a clear influence on efficiency that company bosses took notice and invested. Today, state-of-the-art production facilities are bright and clean with a friendly design language.
Appreciation through design
The appreciation that companies show their workforce in the form of high-quality, functional and ergonomic work benches has a significant influence on output. When working in a pleasant environment, personnel exhibit high levels of motivation and commitment. Employees also feel good and are ill less often.
Moreover, ergonomic work benches with a standardized design are integral to a company’s corporate design, as they have a major impact on corporate culture. Internally, they ensure that personnel identify more closely with the company and enjoy job satisfaction – externally, they project an impressive image to customers and suppliers.
Industrial design brought to life
A subtle design language of straight lines communicates order and organization, where everything has its place. Work benches don’t just look very tidy and well structured, they also stay that way. Thanks to wide-ranging adjustability and a whole host of additional options, personnel have a great deal of freedom to customize their workstation to their physical and occupational needs. Sustainable, ergonomic work bench design takes a great deal of psychological and physical strain off employees.
This positive impression has been reflected in the opinions of judging panels for a whole range of prestigious design awards. For example, the Work Bench System has been nominated for the German Design Award 2015. Parts of the system have already won the Red Dot Design Award 2014, the iF product design award gold 2011 and the iF Industrie Forum Design Hannover award 1997.