The engineers set out on a journey with a simple goal in mind; to create a proprietary product that Integrant could manufacture that would also directly benefit people. Historically, its parent company had only manufactured plastic injection molded parts that were used by other companies. However, the team wanted to design and manufacture their own product. After researching different industries and markets, they decided on designing a unique overbed table system, which was inspired by the team’s personal experiences.
“I like that we’re providing a product that meets the needs of the customer” Tony Bucchi, Manufacturing Engineer
Once the team decided on creating an overbed table system, they had three main goals:
- To address a real-world problem.
- To take a stale product and make it modern.
- To make a plastic product that was durable and could directly help people.
As discussions about a new overbed table continued, the team became more excited. They knew that they were about to create a product which could benefit a whole lot of people, and everyone they talked to seemed to know someone whose life could be better with this type of overbed table, which would offer convenience, comfort and help to prevent falls.
Engineering the Overbed Table System
After deciding on creating a unique overbed table system, the team began by creating a list of features to add. The original plans were elaborate and included a wide variety of features that even included a paper towel holder and a water cooler. It became clear that the overbed table system design needed to be a bit simpler. The original design was scaled back to the features that added the most value. They continued to do more research and adjusted their plans, encountering various obstacles that arose, such as table balance and weight.
Obstacles Faced During the Design
During the design phase, the team wanted an extremely sturdy table that would not tip. They needed to figure out how to have a high weight capacity tray with no tipping, even when the tray was rotated. The original design was easy to tip over, even with nothing on the tray, because the legs were too short. Engineers realized they would have to change the base.
“We extended the length of the legs on the base. In fact, the final design has longer legs in the front to ensure stability,” Cos Totaru, Director of Engineering
Similarly, the team wanted to have a power outlet on the front of the table, however, it created issues with cord management when multiple items were plugged in at once because the corded blocked part of the top shelf. To prevent this issue, they decided to turn the outlets around so that they are on the back of the unit. They then added cord pass-throughs so items such as phone chargers were still accessible from the front.
The Final Product
The time and effort required to design the atHand Overbed Table paid off. The final design included several significant features, such as:
- USB ports to allow multiple items to be plugged in without needing to reach for outlets.
- A gooseneck light to allow for the desired amount of lighting without the need to get up to reach switches or lean over to try to reach lamps.
- Ample drawer space.
- Rotating tray to allow the user to pull the table close and adjust to the desired height.
“The rotating tray allows the table to be pulled up close to the user, even when in a chair or other piece of furniture that the base doesn’t fit under. It allows the overbed table to be used next to nearly anything,” Thad Brej, Engineering Project Manager.
The creation of the atHand Overbed Table has helped many people living with limited mobility or are on bedrest, providing both comfort and functionality. In addition, this table helps keep people safe by preventing accidental falls. Each unit is assembled in Ohio and inspected by hand to ensure the utmost quality.
Future changes in overbed table engineering will happen as the team discovers other problems that need to be solved. “Our goal is to find other problems to solve and make people’s lives easier,” said an engineer.