Philip Nordmand Andersen
Umea Institute of Design
- The student did a great job identifying an opportunity and solving it in a way that feels natural and simple.
- Aesthetically, the object feels appropriate for the target industry.
- The key product differentiator is evident at a glance, while other improvements to the equipment are subtly integrated into the precise and sturdy form. Overall, the design solutions are clever, mature and very well integrated.
AIRGO is a new type of handheld 'breaker' or jackhammer, offering an effortless demolition experience through an ergonomic design. The unique, supportive wheel-arm makes AIRGO easy to lift out of concrete even when the chisel is jammed and roll it to a new location. By avoiding heavy loads, awkward body positions and repetitive lifting, AIRGO takes the strain off the worker, preventing various musculoskeletal injuries and diseases. With its ergonomic wheel-arm, anti-dust water spray system, anti-vibration handles and vibration monitoring app, AIRGO keeps construction workers safe, healthy and productive.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Overexertion from heavy lifting reportedly causes 38% of musculoskeletal disorders among construction workers in the USA. The repetitive motion of lifting or pulling a heavy breaker out of concrete for extended periods of time makes working with these tools extremely strenuous, especially when the chisel gets jammed. The breaker, which can weigh between 25 - 45 kgs, cannot simply be made lighter, since a specific amount of weight is needed to maintain the ‘breaking power’ and to effectively hold the tool down against the concrete. Over-exposure to hazardous dust particles that are generated from the demolition, can cause permanent damage to the lungs and result in various lung diseases such as lung cancer. Regular exposure to excessive hand-arm-transmitted vibration may inflict damage to tissues and nerves, putting workers at risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Today, new types of hand-held breakers offer anti-vibration systems that significantly reduce the vibration exposure, yet the levels are still too high to be considered safe.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Today’s handheld breakers are heavy and powerful tools that require a great deal of physical strength to operate even for short periods of time. The immense amount of physical strain that construction workers suffer on daily basis makes you question if handheld breakers are really suitable for human use? This project aims to define the future of handheld demolition, through a user-centered design approach, by improving the way users work to demolish horizontal surfaces without compromising ergonomics, mobility, and efficiency.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
AIRGO is developed with a user-centered design approach in close collaboration with construction workers and industry professionals. The research included multiple interviews, observations and participatory work sessions that were documented with video footage that was used for further analysis and to communicate the identified problems and insights. Ideas were explored through a combination of sketching, rough 3D, and many levels of physical mockups that were evaluated together with construction workers, resulting in valuable feedback. Experienced designers and engineers from the tool industry were consulted at different touch points throughout the project to give constructive feedback and to validate the concept that led to the end result.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Through an ergonomic design, AIRGO improves the life of construction workers by reducing the strain, dust and vibrations that causes numerous injuries and disorders to workers which can lead to early retirement. An innovative wheel-arm is a key feature that supports the weight of the tool and lifts it out of concrete, so the user does not have to. The intuitive handle-controls enable the user to maneuver the breaker as an extension of the body’s natural movements, contracting and extending the wheel-arm by simply pressing down and pulling up. An integrated high pressure water-spray nozzle aimed towards the breaking zone effectively eradicates 70-90% of the dust before it becomes airborne. AIRGO has anti-vibration handles that slide on the side of the breaker, reducing the amount of vibration exposure to the user’s hands and arms. Conveniently placed by the users fingers on each handle is a scroll-wheel that with a simple twist on the right side initiates the water-spray function and the left retracts the wheel-arm when it does not fit in narrow spaces and holes. Two other key features are a light sensor that automatically turns on the bright LEDs to increase visibility in the breaking zone and the AIRGO-app where users monitor the vibration levels and receive alerts about overexposure. The future of hand-held demolition is to work smarter not harder and AIRGO shows the way.