Industrial equipment

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Industrial equipment: scoring highly for ergonomics

In this section of Red Dot 21, you will find industrial equipment for different areas and sectors including robots and appliances for the catering industry. Ergonomics are of great importance in the design of industrial equipment; in other words the optimisation of the work environment, work processes and tools. An ergonomic design helps to facilitate efficient working without undue fatigue, even over longer periods of time. Ultimately, that not only benefits the people doing the work, but also raises productivity. User friendliness is a particularly important factor in this. It can, for example, entail the arrangement of all important controls to ensure that they are easy to reach. It also covers the interfaces – the intersections between humans and machine – to ensure that they are intuitive to use even under difficult conditions and in complex situations. That requires easily understood symbols as well as unambiguous displays and control lights. The more self-explanatory a control panel is, the lower the risk of human operator error. That is why many manufacturers of industrial equipment rely on some form of touch display controls that capitalise on the user habits we have grown accustomed to from consumer electronics. In general, modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, sensors or network modules are integrated into the design of industrial equipment as a matter of course in order to monitor, ease and optimise work processes. Different ergonomic considerations come into play for the design of handheld devices such as measurement, diagnostic and control units, retail scanners and hand-held tools. They include reducing weight down to a minimum, as well as ensuring perfect equilibration. In addition, textured, non-slip, comfortable-feeling grip areas and vibration-proof handles ensure that the piece of equipment is pleasant to hold and can be used with precision. In addition to ergonomics, the jurors of the Red Dot Award: Product Design pay attention to other things when judging the design quality of industrial equipment. What matters varies from equipment to equipment and depends on the sector in which it is used. For complex large-scale machinery that is prone to malfunctions, for example in the realm of automation technology, that can be easy access to machine parts that used for maintenance or particularly quiet or low-emission, as well as energy-efficient operation. With appliances for the gastronomy industry, on the other hand, jury members look out for as homogenous and hence hygienic a surface design as possible. For retail products, such as POS terminals for instance, it is important that they fit elegantly into their surroundings, whereas electronic devices used in the chemical, construction and manufacturing industries etc. have to meet certain requirements with regard to durability, so that they assure reliable function in industrial environments. In these instances, it is critical that a piece of equipment is designed to be durable, to be dust- and waterproof, impact-resistant, able to withstand being dropped and also that it is designed for ease of operation even when users are wearing protective gloves etc.

Robots: design builds trust

A completely different aspect of good design comes into play for robots. Here, the emotional qualities of the design take on an important role. Industrial robots are taking on an ever increasing number of automated production tasks. Designers counteract the sense of unease, which people feel if they have to work alongside such robots every day, by using styling that makes the robots appear less technoid and threatening. That styling can range from the use of gentle, organic lines to giving robots a human appearance to some other element reminiscent of people or animals. The aim is to eliminate the reservations people feel when they come into contact with these machines by making them likeable through the use of familiar shapes. In our image galleries for the automation technology, diagnostic and control devices, appliances for the catering industry, retail, components, cleaning, robots, heavy duty and sensors categories, you will find well-designed products from the industrial equipment sector. If a product has already won a Red Dot Design Award, it is identified accordingly. Clicking on the image will provide you with further information.

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