Packs of comfort complete safety and functionality added to equipment, providing a more pleasant work environment to the operators
Who thinks that comfort is an exclusive feature of cars did not yet enter in the cab of modern machines. Advances in operating stations go from comfortable and padded seats, adjustable steering, connectivity and panel with well-distributed commands to beds with bagged springs. These features illustrate well the reality of cabs currently used in Brazil.
Improving points dealing with ergonomics and safety of cabs are a competitive differential that matches world trends. In machines, each detail of the interface with human beings requires exhaustive researches and tests to allow the necessary welfare to the operators who work long hours inside the cabin. That is why items such as diameter and grip of the steering wheel, levers, access to the panel commands, visibility and mobility have to be thoroughly designed and evaluated.
To incorporate these advancements, several field researches are being carried out. “There are deep studies currently available to define points such as the fabric that covers the components, touch, brightness, acoustics, comfort and even the characteristic smell of a cab interior”, says Allan Holzmann, director of strategies for trucks from Volvo Group. “From the noise of a door closing to the sound released when the direction change is actuated, the definition of all elements is based on researches.”
Certifications for cabs still are not mandatory but some features are among standard items in several equipment. After all, the Brazilian market became more demanding and many companies are currently rejecting machines that do not have at least ROPS/FOPS certification. This demanded evolution of the industry to attend this claim.
ROPS and FOPS mean respectively Roll Over Protective Structure and Falling Objects Protective Structure. The first one indicates that the cabin’s structure will preserve the operator’s station in case of machine roll over. In other words, if the operator is fixed on his seat by the safety belt, the wounds caused by a roll over will not be serious or will not exist. And the FOPS certification means that the cab’s roof will support the impact of objects falling down from determined height with no deformation and preventing them to hit the operator’s head.
To get the FOPS level, it is necessary that the structure would resist to the fall of a cylindrical volume from a height enough to generate energy of 1365 J having a deflection below that indicated by the ISO 3164 standard. According to Carlos França, sales manager from Case CE, there are two levels of FOPS certification. “The level I supports an object with 46 kg falling down from a height of 3 m and the level II supports 227 kg falling down from up to 5.2 m”, explains him pointing that standards do not specify exactly what items are mandatory for cabs, such as supports, sockets, bolts, pins, suspension, structural components, substructure or others.
Several regulations, however—such as NR-12 (about general safety features in machines), NR-18 (about machines in civil construction), NR-22 (for mining equipment) and NR-31 (for forest applications)—specify the safety items that are mandatory for each application. And since some machines are used in different works along their useful life, the manufacturers had to attend standards and offer these safety items directly from the factory. But many machines come to the market without these features. Generally, the plate with certifications and standards is fixed in the cab structure, complying with ISO (International Organization for Standardization) requirements. For example, the standards ISO 12.117 and 3.471 regulate the ROPS certification for construction equipment, whereas the standards ISO 3.449 and 10.262 regulate the FOPS certification for this industry.
To receive the “seal”, the cabin has to be approved in several tests that are recorded in the supporting documentation, if the client wants to check. “There are manufacturers not still adapted to supply equipment with ROPS/FOPS cabs”, highlights França, pointing that this protection is standard for the entire product line supplied in Brazil by Case.