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 combined 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™. Not only did it enable manufacturers to purchase all the movement solution parts in one place, it also set a whole new market standard for quality, control and product testing.

The next generation of lift systems is called LINAK® LIFT™, and it sets new and more comprehensive market standards because it is based on extensive user feedback, which talented designers have converted into optimal ergonomics and aesthetic elegance.

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

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

Meanwhile, LINAK R&D worked intensively with multiple functions and features. Bluetooth® wireless technology opens the gate to a wireless world, where system data can be distributed to different functions in, for example, hospitals or a care homes.

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 around 25 % faster when it’s not loaded. In short, Li-Ion helps improve staff efficiency – in hospitals as well as care homes”.

Tested on care professionals in the real world
To make sure the collected user input really had been converted 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 observed and received feedback 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 was arguably the best designed, most thoroughly built and most extensively tested actuator system in LINAK history.

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

LINAK maintains a test culture
LINAK has always tested its products. 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 complete system – not just each part individually,” explains Erik Hansen. “We have kept on doing this with new projects. It is a LINAK standard!”

Over the years, the LINAK® Test Centre has expanded many times, and it has developed new ways of testing everything from materials, single components, individual products and 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 to create 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 and allow full design freedom.

“At that 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,” explains Hansen. “We went and asked the customers directly, in order to be 100 per cent sure that we’d left no stone unturned and to ultimately make something they could use”.

For Erik Hansen and the team working on the JUMBO™ project, it was a case of constantly 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 do they 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 the 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,” says Rode 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 are 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 go on. We also wanted to make new and more modern designs with improved usability. LIFT has it all”.

 

Got a question about electric actuator technology?

- We are not oracles. But, we are experts in actuator technology. So, feel free to ask us anything you like about that.