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The Importance of Cycle Testing in Medical Cart Development

Posted by Greg Binversie on July 17, 2015

You expect your medical cart to operate trouble-free for a long time. But how can you be sure those expectations will be reality? By making sure the manufacturer conducts cycle testing (endurance testing) rather than relying on an “overdesign and hope for the best” approach.

Whether it’s drawer slides, arm joints, wheels or locks, cycle testing as many parts as possible not only helps identify potential functionality problems prior to production, but also helps ensure a cart’s durability over its projected lifespan – whether that’s 5 years or 25 years. Such testing also helps in terms of planning the need for replacement parts.

Despite these benefits, however, many companies overlook cycle testing as they deem it as being too expensive or because they are content to rely solely on lifespan data provided by parts manufacturers.

HUI’s Approach to Cycle Testing

While parts suppliers often provide us data on the lifespan of certain parts, more often than not we’ve found this data either does not accurately line up or is not specific enough for medical cart applications. We’ve also learned from much experience that parts that are used harshly, under pressure or simply misused break or fail much sooner than the manufacturer’s data indicate.

As a result, we’ve come to operate under a “if it moves, we cycle test it” approach, performing our own in-house cycle testing.

We start with a prototype of the medical cart being developed for a project – nothing compares to seeing the project come to life through the prototype and seeing the test results from this full-size cart. Using this prototype, we perform some simple, basic tests (e.g., drawers repeatedly opened and closed, height-adjustable elements lifted/lowered) to see how long it takes for parts to break or issues to arise. A few sample results from recent cycle tests we have run include:

  • Noise from parts
  • Squeaky wheels
  • Strength of washers
  • Drawer slide latch issues
  • Failure rate of a lock
  • The life expectancy of a friction clutch

We gather some of our strongest information from these tests and we learn something new each time. Using this data, we can then address performance issues to improve the cart, either by modifying the design or by designing more rigorous or more intricate parts. We also apply this knowledge to future cart designs.

Testing carts in-house gives HUI the ability to design, test and make changes within the development process, making the entire project run more smoothly and cost effectively, while also ensuring long-term cart performance and reliability.

For more information about HUI, and our medical cart development process, please contact Nick Rolf at nrolf@huimfg.com or (920) 286-2217.

HUI 60601-1 Third Edition Cheat Sheet

Topics: Medical Cart Design

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