By: Azman Zakaria
Photo by: Mozaid Idris
SERDANG: A group of researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has successfully invented an innovative ergonomic pineapple harvesting basket capable of reducing back pain during pineapple harvest and reducing risks of long-term effects of musculoskeletal pain on muscles, bones, nerves and joints.
The harvesting basket or pineapple lanjung (long and thin basket) carried on the back of the farmers to hold harvested pineapples is equipped with features that provide comfort to the farmers, unlike the widely used rattan baskets currently.
The innovation dubbed as the ‘Smart Fruit Harvesting Basket’ (Sumosack) is designed to distribute the pineapple load according to the different sections and sizes of the farmers’ back muscles.
Head of the research group, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emilia Zainal Abidin, said they measured the body size of 50 pineapple farmers using anthropometric measurements and used the average size to produce a harvesting basket designed based on the farmers’ body back structure.
She added that the harvesting basket has holes that can be adjusted according to the farmers’ height and body size.
“It is equipped with an adjustable pulley and a lever to open and close the bottom of the harvesting basket, and this allows farmers to unload the pineapples easily while they are in a standing position without having to bend.
“This differs greatly from the rattan baskets currently being used as farmers are subjected to excessive bending to unload pineapples from the basket on their back. This innovation eliminates awkward positions that cause back, muscle and joint pain”, she said.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emilia, who is also a lecturer at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UPM, said the ergonomic basket has four adjustable straps that can properly tighten the ties on the farmers’ back, shoulders, chest and waist.
The ergonomic basket is made of stainless steel and aluminium and weighs about 4 kg compared to the rattan basket, which weighs over 5 kg.
It can hold between 40 and 45 kg of pineapples. This is about 30 per cent lesser than the capacity of the rattan basket, which is about 70kg, thus easing the burden borne by the farmers.
"We want to prevent back pain among farmers, including its long-term effects on the quality of life," she said.
To achieve this, they produced an ergonomic basket based on a simple shape designed by undergraduate students in 2017 before improvising it after receiving a grant worth RM130,000 from the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) funded by the SME Corp fund in 2018, which was channelled through the Malaysian Innovation Foundation.
Apart from Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emilia, a PhD student, Mohd Hasif Malek, and four undergraduate and postgraduate students are also members of the research group.
The ergonomic basket has been patented, and a few more improvements will be made. She welcomes companies that wish to collaborate in producing the ergonomic basket. - UPM
Date of Input: 31/01/2022 | Updated: 31/01/2022 | hairul_nizam
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