Tech & trend

Focus on design and usability in modern patient lift systems

Working care staff and skilled designers play a key part when developing modern healthcare equipment. At LINAK the next generation of adjustment systems for patient lifts is built on real-life user feedback merged with meticulous design work and 25 years of solid engineering experience.

In 1995 the first full actuator system solution for a patient lift was launched – LINAK® JUMBO™. It not only enabled manufacturers to purchase all the movement solution parts in one place. It also set a whole new market standard in regards to quality, control as well as product testing.

The next generation of lift systems is called LINAK® LIFT™, and it sets new and more comprehensive market standards, in including extensive user feedback and allowing accomplished designers to convert this feedback into optimal ergonomics and aesthetic elegance.

Stepping into a new era of patient lifts
Business Development Manager Claus Rode has been with LINAK for many years, and he has followed the success of JUMBO™ closely. He was an instrumental part of that cross-functional LINAK team, developing the LINAK LIFT™.

“In all modesty, I think we have always been champions when it comes to engineering,” says Rode.

“However, with LIFT™ we wanted to give more weight to visual appearance and user-friendliness. Naturally, without compromising quality and function. We wanted engineering to embrace sublime design and optimal usability”.

His colleague, Senior Manager Erik Hansen, was responsible for the development of the JUMBO™ system in 1995. Despite the system’s impressive success through the past decades, he applauds the inclusion of more extensive user feedback as well as focus on visual appearance. He calls it a ‘step into the future’.

“There is so many new things we wanted to include in the new system. We have new and better actuators now, we have Bluetooth® technology, new battery technology – I could continue. We also wanted to make new and more modern design with improved usability. LIFT comprises it all”.

Digitalization and modern design
To successfully incorporate the user feedback received into the design and engineering, Claus Rode invited an external industrial designer - raising ambitions significantly.

“The assignment was clear – make a modern yet ‘invisible’ design, that blends in with the customer’s patient lift and possibly enhance his design,” says Claus Rode.

Simultaneously LINAK R&D worked intensely with multiple functions and features. Bluetooth® wireless technology opens the gate to a wireless world, where system data can be distributed to different functions at, for example, a hospital or a care home.

Focus on design and usability in modern patient lift systems
 

Ready for a Li-Ion future
Rode and the team designed LIFT™ with Li-Ion battery technology in mind. Not only do Li-Ion batteries perform better, they are also cheaper in the long run.

“The performance curve is so much better with Li-Ion batteries,” says Claus Rode. “It paves the way for the turbo-boost function, making the lift move roughly 25% faster when it’s not loaded. In short, Li-Ion helps improve staff efficiency – in hospitals as well care homes”.

Tested on real world care professionals
To make sure the user input collected really had translated into improved usability, project concepts were tested by care staff in nursing homes.

“We asked the staff to test the new system. Then we took every little piece of feedback observed and received back to the lab. Here we did some adjustments, and then asked them to test again”.

Focus on design and usability in modern patient lift systems
 

The final result became the arguably best designed, most thoroughly built, and most extensively tested actuator system in LINAK history.

“We have no doubt made a new standard for system development. Usability and design will continue to play an even larger role for us from now on,” Claus Rode says.

LINAK maintains a test culture
LINAK has tested its products from the very beginning. However, 25 years ago when the JUMBO™ patient lift project progressed it became clear that a more system-oriented approach to testing was required.

“Quality has always been a key focus area for LINAK. All the parts we sell are tested before they leave the factory. But, with the JUMBO project we really started testing products as a system – not just each part individually,” Erik Hansen explains. “We have kept on doing this with new projects. It is LINAK standard!”

Over the years the LINAK® Test Center has expanded many times, and it has developed new ways of testing everything from materials, single components, individual products as well as full actuator systems with BUS communication software.

A bright idea became the market standard
During the early ‘90s LINAK was already busy making actuators for patient lifts. But, frequent conversations with customers led the Danish manufacturer on the track of creating a full actuator system with a focus on modularity. In order to meet customer requirements, the system – including control boxes, batteries, chargers and handsets – had to be future-proof as well as allow full design freedom.

“At the time, manufacturers had to procure all the various parts for their movement solutions from different vendors,” says Erik Hansen, Senior Manager at LINAK and one of the creators behind JUMBO. “Obviously, this made it almost impossible for them to have consistent quality across suppliers, and testing all the parts together as a system was a very lengthy and sometimes costly process for them”.

This sparked the fundamental idea behind LINAK® JUMBO™ – everything you need in one solution, and everything thoroughly tested as a system, before you receive it.

JUMBO™ - development one-o’-one
Having substantial experience with systems for hospital beds, the LINAK team knew that starting from scratch was the best approach.

“Of course, we used our skills and experience. But, there was no reusing of products from other applications,” Hansen explains. “We went and asked the customers directly, in order to be 100 per cent sure that we’d left no stone unturned and ultimately to make something they could use”.

For Erik Hansen and the team around the JUMBO™ project, it was a constant going back and forth, asking customers and end users, and then heading back to the test lab.

“We went through every user scenario we could think of,” he says. “What happens when a battery is flat? Who does what then? How do they replace it and charge it right away? That, and much more. Then we went back home and tested new ideas”.

Stepping into a new era of patient lifts
Hansen’s colleague, Business Development Manager Claus Rode, has been with LINAK for many years too and has followed the success of JUMBO. He has been a key part of that cross-functional LINAK team that developed the next generation actuator system for modern patient lifts – LINAK LIFT™.

The team brought all the best-practice knowledge from JUMBO on board the new project. Yet, LIFT™ had a slightly different nature from the outset.

“In all modesty, I think we have always been champions when it comes to engineering,” Rode says and continues: “However, with this project we wanted to give more weight to visual appearance and user-friendliness. Naturally, without compromising quality and function. We wanted engineering to embrace sublime design and optimal usability”.

Focus on design and usability in modern patient lift systems
 

To Erik Hansen the transition to LIFT is a solid step into the future:

“There is so many new things we wanted to include in the new system. We have new and better actuators now, we have Bluetooth® technology, new battery technology – I could continue. We also wanted to make new and more modern design with improved usability. LIFT comprises it all”.

 

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