Ergonomic production

Article of 30 January 2015 

The ClipFixTool from Festo in action.

In a successful working environment, it should be possible to not only work effectively but also as ergonomically as possible. That is why employees should be relieved from physically strenuous activities as much as possible.

A job that causes a high amount of strain in vehicle assembly, for example, is fastening interior trim. Clip and push-in connectors are mainly used here, whereby the clips have to be pushed by hand into the holes provided by exerting force. A worker repeats this process over 100 times a day sometimes. Over the long term, this physical strain can even lead to damage to the fingers and wrists.

Pneumatic clip fixing device developed

The car manufacturer, VW, was looking for an ergonomically sensible solution for this task and so got in touch with Festo. After visiting the workplaces together in the production at VW, Festo started with the research and development work for a device used to fix the clips, which was intended to take the strain off the employees. A prototype was able to be presented to the customer in March 2013.

The shape of the device resembles a rechargeable screwdriver. It is placed with its end on the clip and triggered. Inside there is a pneumatic cylinder, which moves forward quickly when activated. “Due to the defined impact generated with compressed air, the piston is brought into the end position without braking, so that the clip is pushed into the relevant hole,” explains Günther Schmauz, Head of Product Management Air Supply and Sensors. This reduces the physical force exerted considerably. In addition, it is possible to work more precisely than by hand.

Design prize award

“The clip fixing device impressed the representatives of VW – the reactions were thoroughly positive. The only question to us was when we could supply the tool,” says Thomas Heyer, who looks after the development project from the sales side. In the form of the ClipFixTool, Festo has managed to develop a product that is the first of its kind to enable work in this field to be done quickly and ergonomically.

Its simple operation ensures that the ClipFixTool can be used by any worker after brief instructions. These properties also impressed the jury of the Red Dot Award, which awarded the device the sought-after design prize in 2014, among other things for its ease of operation, the ergonomic benefits and the design. An initial small batch is already in use at VW, with work currently starting on worldwide sales.

See in the video how the ClipFixTool works: