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FELCO 12_Denis Tièche

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Ergonomics, a constant concern

Owing to the fact that pruning professionals must have pruning shears adapted to the hand and intended usage, FELCO engineers are permanently working on the ergonomics of their tools. Denis Tièche, technical director, explains.

This fall, FELCO launched new bi-material handles for the FELCO 7, 10, 12 and 50 pruning shears. What advantages can end customers expect?

We wanted to improve our rotary handle following feedback from within the field. We took into account two points: the handle was considered hard and smooth and it slid a bit in hand. Hence our desire to create a bi-material handle. We decided on an elastomer (rubber) coating for the rotating handle, a softer, more bonding material than the polymer used up to the present time. This offers two advantages: the twist grip is flexible, so more comfortable to use and it does not slip in the hand. We also changed the second handle to improve the grip.
This work focusing on ergonomics was conducted together with our industrial designer Paolo Fancelli, familiar to regulars of FELCO Passion!

Ergonomics has always been important in FELCO. Why?

Simply because the ease of use is essential for the professional who spends his day pruning! Imagine a marathon runner, if they wear ill-fitting shoes, they will not finish the race. In much the same way as the shoe size, it is crucial to have a tool that is not only adapted to the hand, but also adapted to the intended use.
All our shears are ergonomically designed, a part of the FELCO tradition, handed straight down from the founder, Felix Flisch.
This is also the reason why we develop specific models: left-handed models, for example. We will also be releasing two new models, the FELCO 16 and 17. Not forgetting our range of rotating handles for intensive work. They prevent fatigue during prolonged use.

When you work on developing a new product, is ergonomics the most important criteria?

For us, it is one of the crucial criteria, on par with efficiency. Professionals, above all else will carry out research to find tools which are effective for their work, and those which resist time. However ergonomics contributes to effectiveness: it is not possible to use a tool which is not ergonomic in the long-term and regularly as the tool effectiveness will decrease. In essence, these two notions are related.
A balance between ergonomics and versatility must be achieved. The more ergonomic a tool is, hence the more suited it is to a given use, the more versatility it loses. It becomes increasingly less pleasant as soon as it comes out of the context for which it was designed. It is our role to find that balance based on the needs of our customers.

Specifically, how does ergonomic research and the design work come together?

Often, ergonomics is anti-design and sometimes design elements are sacrificed to heighten the ease of use. Specifically, our way of working depends on the range of tools you want to develop. We use statistical studies, available worldwide, on the size of hands. This helps us scale our product, both in terms of handle length and opening.

Ergonomics within the workplace

In September, I received people who organize a factory-school in the field of watchmaking. Their goal is to demonstrate good practices. I received them because they wanted to visit our assembly workshop which is very advanced in this area. They were very interested in what we have achieved. For example, the desk electronic height adjustment. If a person wishes to work standing, the relative work station reconfigures itself exactly as they want it, offering maximum comfort.