A win for smart design
13 Nov 2019
Steve and Carlene Leitch from Biggins Interior Solutions with Steve's uncle Sir Peter Leitch, aka The Mad Butcher. The family company won the Dominion Constructors Safety Innovation Award for small to medium-sized organisations at the Site Safe Evening of Celebrations.
Lower Hutt’s Biggins Interior Solutions had a heavy issue to deal with in its Gracefield factory.
The manufacturer of fibrous plaster cornices, architectural mouldings and sheet linings needed a way to get its products off the table they are cast on and into the drying area without damaging them.
A key issue was that the large fibrous plaster sheets weigh about 80kg when “green” (freshly cast) and some days up to 12 of them had to be manually lifted, carried and hoisted into position in the drying room 20 metres away.
Owner Steve Leitch says by trial, error, and the generation of three prototypes, the company came up with a simple mechanical lifter on wheels that made the whole process much easier.
There was a bit of family encouragement to do this – “four out of our five kids have worked in the business and making the sheets is bloody heavy!"
He says the single lift from the tilting casting table onto the trolley-lifter is now a breeze by comparison to the old lift-carry-lift scenario.
“There have been no back strains since the introduction and my son and daughter (both employees at the firm) easily manage it.”
The clever device impressed the judges who named Biggins the ultimate winner from the three finalists in the Dominion Constructors Safety Innovation Award for small to medium-sized organisations at Site Safe's annual Evening of Celebration in Auckland on November 6.
“The finished product shows signs of humble beginnings with recycled components, what looks like a bag of plaster for ballast and bubble wrap protecting fresh sheets from damage,” the judges said.
“And this is the great thing about the Innovation Award for small to medium sized businesses - the sheet trolley-lifter may not be beautiful, and it didn’t cost a fortune, but it works!
"It eliminates lifting and handling hazards and the effects on worker morale and teamwork are as impressive as the reduction in manual handling hazards.
"This was a worthy winner amongst a heap of effective, simple, cheap and cheerful initiatives.”
After three prototypes and some trial and error design work, the trolley-lifter is making life a lot easier at Biggins Interior Solutions.