Ergo Lift

Most of us are jettisoning excess equipment and gear in preparation for moving out of this facility. With only a few weeks left to get ready for relocating, things have taken on a greater sense of urgency. There are a few items I would like to somehow accommodate for in my floor plan but no matter how creative I am with it there just isn’t enough free square footage. I do happen to have one large item I am entirely looking forward to abandoning though. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

It’s the damned Ergo lift. That eyesore is such a useless hunk of garbage.

B-rad told me a story about that junk pile. The engineer who invented it from scratch apparently spent months coming up with the design. Built out of sturdy aluminum beams, thick black acrylic plates, and operated by pneumatic actuators; the Ergo lift turned out to be as useful as a bucket full of holes. Heavy white plastic air hoses weaved in and out of the lift’s frame as if someone had thrown a handful of limp spaghetti at it. Standing over seven feet tall that goofy piece of machinery looked like a cross between an Erector Set on steroids and a Borg drone.

Engineers who work in the Ergonomics department frequently go way overboard designing elaborate overkill solutions to problems a little common sense would easily take care of. This case was no different. The initial problem arose from employees who complained they had difficulty being able to physically lift an eighty five pound instrument off of a cart and place it onto a small rolling table for shipment.

Instead of training employees to use what I refer to as a “leveraged lift” where you simply use the weight of the instrument to safely pivot it off a cart and on to a table, someone whined to the Ergo department. Then it became a big deal. The engineer assigned to investigate and produce a fix for this issue wasted tons of time and money in my opinion. Eventually, he built a dangerous contraption that nobody wanted to use. The Ergo lift is unstable when it has any weight placed on it’s work surface. When an assembler activated controls to raise or lower the platform it seemed slow to respond, quickly bogged down, and upon stopping the lift surface it would bounce a few times before completely coming to rest. It freaked out female employees in particular. So the Ergo lift was pushed aside and left to collect dust.

One afternoon when that dunce of an engineer walked by our area he noticed we weren’t using his precious mechanical abomination. He questioned us about why it wasn’t in operation. Somebody explained to him that using it was risky and that it didn’t work properly. Rather than offer to redesign the lift or at the very least attempt to inspect it for defects, the jerk blew his stack. He threatened to have employees fired if we refused to operate it. I don’t think he cared for a second that someone might get themselves hurt using it. That wasn’t his concern. His ego was bruised so he lashed out. Also, if word got back to the Ergonomics department that his equipment had turned out to be less than satisfactory he might end up in some kind of trouble. To cover his ass he wanted to force us into compliance. His temper tantrum caused a further backlash and hardened employees’ resolve to not use the lift. No one was fired though and for the past year or so I haven’t seen a single person operate it.

I’m leaving that shit heap behind when we move out. I hope maintenance workers drag the Ergo lift to the recycling center where it will meet a grisly death, parted out and crushed for scrap metal.


~ by factorypeasant on November 8, 2006.

8 Responses to “Ergo Lift”

  1. I remember putting that pile of sheet out in the hallway once and the design engineer wanted to have me written up for a safety hazard.

    the main problem with it besides the obvious was that it was designed for only 1 rollaround cart height. since we had different carts of varying heights in the area instruments would end up precariously halfway perched on these off sized rollaround carts.

    I trained 2 different ladies on how to use it and they both would rather meet mike tyson in a dark alley then deal that poorly designed contraption from hell!!!

    If I recall that thing dissapeared when we moved to santa rosa…..

    pokey man

  2. yes, it DID disappear after our move. that story is coming up…

  3. If you were on my line I would force you to use it or I would give you a low rank and put you on notice.

    To make sure this great piece of machinery is being used I am going to assign 85 year old 55 pound Asian woman to the mini-rel area. In there heavy instruments have to be loaded into a five foot high temperature chamber.

    The Bearded Bastard

  4. oh beard you are so silly. you can go back to sleep on the job now like normal. i’ll wake you up by hitting you across the legs with an instrument strap handle later ok?

  5. Famous Beard quotes:

    Hand gesture: “Pimo is up here, your down here.”

    “I demoted Mr. X for his lack of progress on his personal development plan. It was for his own good.”

    “Its like the Praedo rule…law of 80/20…how do you see this? Help me to help you.”

    Bearded fan

  6. Ofcourse beard fell asleep at work somtimes. Do you realize that he spent a majority of his long 4 hr work day performing the arduous chore of forwarding email to everyone in the company and typing in the letters fyi?

    Now thats hard work.

  7. That POS was a waste of time and money. I never used it as it was as dangerous if you did not use it very carefully…and as you said, it was unnecessary if you used a little common sense.

    The engineer who designed it really torched me in front of management one day. I was with B rad I think and another employee talking shop to the Rice man when the engineer pops in and starts squawking about not using his machine. I told him I prefer not to use it and he told me it was necessary to use it. The conversation evolved to our line was the worst line to work with on the whole site. Uncooperative and unable to work with engineering support…all the while looking me in the eye. Funny thing is, I always got along with the guy and never was hit like that before. Kinda floored me as I considered him someone you could talk with. Funny, I was on my way out with WFM but I still tried to do what was right at that place, that conversation shook me up a little. I suppose it was because someone I worked with and had a relationship with tore me an asshole in front of management like that…I guess it was a slap in the face how people were falling apart from stress and facing their demise at what was once a great place to work for.

    Oh well fuck it and fuck Agilent. Three years gone from that duplicitous bunch of two faces running the business. HP was a great company. Agilent was a mind fuck.

    So good to be gone but the employees were a great bunch of people for the most part. Miss that aspect.

    the gnome

  8. Garden Gnome-

    you know that engineer actually was a nice enough fellow outside of work. i spent some time talking with him at an offsite gig once. i was well aware of the ergo lift debacle by then and didn’t think much of the man but after talking to him for a while i realized he wasn’t a bad person. he just made a series of poor choices with regard to building that machine and didn’t handle criticism well. he also failed to man-up take the hit and fix the damn thing. that’s all he would have had to do.

    it’s funny you mentioned his comment about our line being the worst one to work with in that division. Sources wasn’t that bad at all actually. overall we had a good group of employees many of which actually came to work and used their brains. sometimes i also received comments like that engineer mouthing off because it was out of anger and frustration that petty people couldn’t manipulate or force us to do things that were counterproductive. nobody likes it when they’re told they did something wrong and it takes an honest, gracious person to accept that. many people take the easy way out and use anger as a cop out.

    i agree HP was a great company to work for. too bad a handful of foolish people in Palo Alto had to destroy decades of Bill and Dave’s hard work.

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