120 years ago, the Patriotic Society established the first public library in Hamburg. Today, Bücherhallen Hamburg consists of 32 district libraries, two library buses and the central library near Hamburg’s central train station. The libraries are Hamburg’s most popular cultural institution. They welcome around 4.9 million visitors annually and are an important meeting place and social point of contact. The libraries carry more than 1.7 million physical items; around 13 million media are checked out each year. Workplace ergonomics has long been a topic of concern at Bücherhallen Hamburg – the staff there already rely on Lyngsoe Sort Mate™ 2000 sorters to sort the many items that pile up at the branch libraries every day.
Bücherhallen Hamburg is Germany’s largest group of municipal libraries that attract almost 5 million visitors annually. With more than 1.7 million media in stock, library staff spend many hours sorting the materials. This involves a lot of lifting and bending, which is a frequent cause of back pain and one of the main reasons Bücherhallen set out to improve the workplace ergonomics at the libraries.
Angela Rustemeier from Bücherhallen Hamburg says, “The conventional boxes feature a spring floor which moves downward in line with the media load placed on it and moves up again when the load is removed. Employees used to have to bend far down into the boxes to take out the items at the bottom, which increased the risk of back pain.” Bücherhallen therefore wanted to create a working environment that minimises the risk of harm to the staff. They approached Lyngsoe Systems, and together they designed the Ergo Box.
Apart from the need to improve the workplace ergonomics, the library also had to resolve sorting system problems. The load of a pile of light items was not heavy enough for the spring floor to move downward, which caused the sorting system to stop even though bins were not actually full. Customers who wanted to return their books at the weekend or outside the library’s opening hours could not do so because the system, which identified the bins as full, had stopped operating.
The Ergo Box was developed by Lyngsoe Systems in close co-operation with Bücherhallen Hamburg. Media put into the Ergo Box cause the floor of the Ergo Box to move downward, which ensures that there is always sufficient space for new items dropped in. Besides improving workplace ergonomics this also protects the materials. The Ergo Box responds when the light sensor detects items and the floor of the box moves downward automatically. When library staff take material out of the Ergo Box, the “auto-emptying” mode automatically moves the floor up to a proper working height which reduces the risk of staff developing back pain. Instead of responding to media loads the system operates based on volumes. This results in significantly improved fill rates and less frequent system stops outside opening hours.
The introduction of the Ergo Box with its automatically rising floor offers library staff a better working environment. Employees no longer have to bend when they take out items and thus are less susceptible to back pain or injuries. “Employees are very happy about the Ergo Boxes we installed at Bücherhallen. With the push of a button on the control panel at the front the system does everything automatically,” says Angela Rustemeier from Bücherhallen Hamburg.
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