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Evaluation Of The Capability Of Seat Suspension To Reduce The Operator Exposure To Vibration In Track Type Tractors. - Introduction; Proceedings Of The First American Conference On Human Vibration
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    The European Union (EU) completed a new directive 2002/44/EC1 called the Physical Agents Directive (PAD) that establishes action and limit values for hand-arm and whole body vibrations. The directive specifies that: workers shall not be exposed above the exposure limit value . 1 and once the exposure action values are exceeded, the employer shall establish and implement a programme of technical and/or organisational measures intended to reduce to a minimum exposure to mechanical vibration and the attendant risks 1 The PAD limit value is effective for new machines starting July 6, 2007 and for used machines by at least July 6, 2010. These requirements apply to the users of machines, but machine manufacturers will be challenged to provide machines and information to help the users comply with the directive. Caterpillar manufactures machines with the goal of enabling our customers to comply with all regulations dealing with health and safety. Caterpillar designs all of our machines to provide a safe, comfortable and productive work environment. This study was to determine if seat suspensions could provide a reduction in the vibration environment experienced by operators of Caterpillar mid sized (<50,000KG) Track Type Tractors Methods Seat manufacturers were asked to provide seat suspensions that provide improved isolation over and above current seat suspension. Each supplier was provided with ride profiles and was asked to demonstrate the vibration reduction on a shaker table. Two suppliers provided suspensions that were compared with the current seat suspension in a field study. Three full factorial experiments were conducted. The first experiment was to evaluate overall suspension performance for four operations. The second experiment was to determine the benefit of the adjustable vertical damper at three different levels and the third experiment was to determine the effect of the fore/aft and side/side isolators. Six operators were used for the study. Acceleration was measured at the seat base and at the operator seat pad. Both the transfer function and the ISO 2631 RMS ride values were used to determine the seat suspension s effectiveness of isolating the operator from vibration. A structured questionnaire was used to determine the operators subjective assessment of the seat suspensions. Results There was significant operator-to-operator variability in the vertical direction (>35%), however there was little variability in the fore/aft and side/side direction based on seat base
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