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Simple Design Carries Weight in Electronics Packaging

Simple Design Carries Weight in Electronics Packaging

Golden Mousetrap 2009 WinnerSometimes the simplicity of a design can mask its benefits and applicability for the intended audience. That's the case with IBM's Hinged Platform Tool, a patented technology that helps packaging engineers more effectively configure heavy electrical components.

Many heavy electrical components - for example, the processor and memory nodes for a mainframe computer - are shipped to sites in horizontal packaging so that the longest side of the component can rest flat on a shipping pallet, ensuring optimal stability. The problem comes when it's time to install that component, which typically needs to be reoriented to a vertical position. A single design engineer in charge of the configuration may not be able to switch the position of the component without exposing himself or herself to injury or without causing damage to the electronics. IBM's Hinged Platform tool is designed so a single individual can manually upright a very heavy component easily, without the use of electricity, hydraulics or excessive manpower.

"We took a combination of packaging specialists, human factors ergonomics specialists, development guys and service people and came together to figure out a design that, for the least amount of money and with no special hydraulics or equipment person, could perform the uprighting process," says Sharon Spaulding, packaging engineer at IBM. "It looks very simple when you look at
it, but to get to the actual design was very complex."

The IBM Hinged Platform Tool, made out of high density polyethylene, has a unique frame and hinged base design that allows the heavy electrical component to be easily slid into place within the tooling and reoriented to the proper position by a single individual. The design incorporates spacing to accommodate an individual's foot to ensure optimal stability during the process. The choice of the light, high-density polyethylene material also contributes to its high functionality as it's allowable in data centers - unlike wood or other plastic materials, Spaulding says, and the Hinged Platform Tool design supports the transport of multiple components, not just those affiliated with one specific IBM mainframe.

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