Components, Electronics & Scientific Guide

The Right Equipment and Ergonomics in The Workplace

Automatic procedures often replace hand soldering workplaces. But not in principle, because there are still applications where solder joints have to be made manually. What factors determine a good soldering result in an optimal and ergonomic working environment?
In times of highly integrated electronics and smallest components, high concentration and well-being of employees are important factors for good results. This applies to hand soldering as well as to colleagues in production, the technical staff in the test field or the hardware developer in the electronics laboratory. In addition to the basics and the right tools and auxiliaries, other factors affect the employee and his performance.

Ergonomic and individually adjusted workplace

In the beginning, there is the right equipment for a soldering job. A height-adjustable work table and a contemporary work chair are essential for ergonomic hand soldering. Some manufacturers now also offer Ersa soldering stations as modules for their laboratory workbenches. Ergonomics is an important aspect here: If the employee’s sitting position is unfavorable, tension and poor posture can influence the soldering result. Although this rule applies to all workplaces, soldering requires special concentration and precision, which makes the effect of sitting incorrectly all the more clear. However, new tables and chairs alone are not the solution; it is also important to adapt them professionally to the individual and their needs.

A uniform, low-reflection and sufficiently bright illumination of the table surface is another essential basis. Inadequate lighting may lead to malpractice and the work result and health suffer. Relevant guidelines such as those from the professional associations provide very good clues here. But also with the lighting, the individual sensitivity of the coworkers can vary so that that appropriate adjustment can be necessary. Particular attention is paid to the reading of instruments, for example at soldering stations. Reflections in displays should be avoided, low-contrast displays adapted, so that the employee can easily read all the important information for work.

Pay attention to tools and auxiliary materials

Naturally, the right soldering tools and auxiliary materials are crucial for successfully mastering a soldering task. The processing of the required solder alloy with a suitable soldering iron and the use of the right flux are the determining factors here. Fine soldering tips are just as important in today’s small solder joints as a sufficient magnification by a suitable microscope. Only when the soldering tip fits in size and shape to the soldering task, it is possible to solder quickly and reliably.

When setting up the microscope, it is important to consider sitting posture. For the finest soldering work the posture should not be cramped. A handy, only 30 g lighter soldering iron like Ersa’s i-Tool makes the job much easier. Other tools include desoldering tweezers, a desoldering iron and a hot air piston. It is advantageous if the soldering tool can be conveniently held in the three-point grip. This hand position is learned early and allows precise guidance of the instrument.

Ideally, these four soldering tools can be operated in parallel. This is made possible, for example, by the ion Vario 4 hand soldering station. Thus equipped, there is no need for a complicated tool change and all manual soldering work can be carried out professionally.

A modern soldering station also includes a fume extraction unit to filter out the harmful, respirable particles that form during soldering. A healthy room climate should be a matter of course in every company: The unusually quiet solder fume extractors Easy Arm 1 and Easy Arm 2 from Ersa can be connected to the soldering stations of the icon family and are only active when soldered. They ensure purified breathing air with low operating and filter costs.

And the employees?

The central role at the soldering station still plays the well-being of the employees. Solid training as a soldering specialist, as offered by the training association Soldering Electronics, abbreviated AVLE, is an important basis. Only trained personnel can perform the sometimes challenging tasks in sufficient quality. It also opens up immediately that the personal equipment of the employees must be adapted to the task. Gloves and goggles are just as important as proper ESD equipment and work clothes.

Even with optimal conditions, it is necessary to take short breaks on a regular basis to regain concentration and prevent tension. In the breaks, the first concern is the cleaning and care of the most important “instruments” – the hands. Solder and flux leave residues on the skin. Even if gloves are worn, they must be washed off. The skin dries up during work and needs nourishing moisture.

Afterward, simple, short relaxation exercises at the workplace are recommended: after 5 minutes, your eyes are well rested, your neck and shoulder are relaxed, and your arms, torso and legs are fit again. Advice on ergonomics in the workplace and proper relaxation exercises offer many health insurance companies and private organizations such as “The Health Trainer.”

By the way: An appreciative smile and sincere words of praise for the work done are still very well received by many employees!

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