Workbenches and work stations are equipment or furnishings that create an efficient space in which people perform a set of specific duties, whether in offices, plants, or manufacturing processes.
While industrial equipment manufacturers often refer to "workstations" and "workbenches" interchangeably, there is a small difference between the two terms:
In this context, the term "workstation" refers to entire work areas and units. This includes items like assembly tables, chairs, storage benches, racks, laminar flow benches, cleanroom work benches, and office tables. While "workbench" (or work table) often refers to the same items, it more specifically refers to assembly tables, storage tables and lab work tables; “workbenches” focuses instead on work surface areas, as opposed to entire units with furniture, shelving, and storage. Going forward, however, expect to read references to both workbenches and workstations.
Manufacturers create workbenches to help workers accomplish tasks efficiently. They offer a space for organization and order.
The ergonomic design of workbenches is useful, if not essential, to applications in many different industries. Workers who rely on work areas provided by work bench manufacturers include office workers, call center staff, factory workers, clean room workers, assembly line workers, machinists, operators, and air traffic controllers, among others.
Note: Within the context of industrial manufacturing, workbench applications do not include woodworking or hobbyist projects.
Workbenches – Pro-Line
Portable Workbenches – RDM Industrial Products, Inc.
Industrial Workbench – Pro-Line
The History of Work Benches
Since they’re based on tables, it’s a little difficult to say when people began using workbenches. However, we do know that they were around at least by 50 A.D., in Rome. Roman workbenches were low (much lower than modern workbenches), thin, and very simply constructed. To use them, workers often had to sit down. Humans continued to use workbenches in one form or another over the centuries, without significant change, until the time of the French workbench of the 17th and 18th centuries, which relied on mostly on stops to hold pieces in place.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, workbenches became more ergonomic and mobile. Also during this time, manufacturers began equipping workbenches with electronic elements, like lights and power strips.
Workbenches are produced with work surface areas as the focus. They range widely in dimensions, per their applications, including if workers will be sitting or standing. It’s extremely important that workbenches are able to withstand the loads and everyday rigors of their applications. For that reason, manufacturers sometimes choose to partially or fully weld workstations. For precision, they can use laser welding. At other times, they take a more modular approach, producing workbenches that you can assemble on-site.
The most heavy-duty workbench models are made from stainless steel or heavy-gauge steel. In addition, you can purchase a work bench that features a steel frame and legs, with other components made from other materials. For example, common workbench top materials include plastic laminate, ESD laminate, high-pressure laminate, maple wood, plywood, and particle board. Of course, you can also always get a steel workbench top. Decisions about work bench material are mostly related to the application. For example, for use in a lab, you might consider a stainless steel workbench. This is because stainless steel is corrosion resistant and easily sterilized.
The primary design aspects that go into work bench manufacturing are ergonomics and increased productivity. Workbenches and workstations are ergonomically designed with shelves, reels or laminar flow for the assembly of industrial parts; sometimes, industrial workstations are also designed with units of specialized assembly furniture, like benches, chairs, shelves, and accessories.
With accessories and furniture options like these, the options for custom workbench design are nearly endless. In addition to their physical design features, like adjustable height, workbenches can be designed for applications requiring ultra-sterility, such as lab work or cleanroom environments.
As a whole, workbenches are pretty simple. You put things on them; you store things in them; you work at them. However, individually, they work all kinds of different ways. For example, some are manually height adjustable; others allow you to turn a hand crank in order to achieve height adjustment; still, others do not adjust at all. Some work only where they are placed, while others can be wheeled around to new spots.
Workbenches are essentially tables; at first glance, they are not unique. However, the ways in which they can be made unique are too many to count.
There are a wide range of workbench types. These include industrial workbenches, packing tables, mobile workbenches, adjustable workbenches, cantilever workbenches, modular workstations, computer workbenches, and command operating centers.
Industrial Work Bench
The industrial work bench is a sturdy workbench type. An industrial workbench can be used on construction sites, and in the service of industrial product repair. Because they must be rugged and durable, this workbench model usually doubles as a steel workbench or another metal workbench type.
Packing tables provide shipping and handling workers an organized space for preparing products for shipment.
Mobile Workbench/Mobile Workstation
Mobile workbenches, also known as mobile workstations or portable workbenches, are movable, task-oriented workbenches. They can be adapted to new applications and surroundings, and ensure practicality and efficiency.
Similar to mobile workbenches, modular work benches contain components that can be rearranged. Modular shelves, drawers, and cabinets can be situated in various configurations to suit the needs of workers.
You can, for example, alter adjustable work benches in order to fit the needs of the workers, changing the height of work benches desks, chairs, and in some cases, desk drawer units, cabinets, and keyboard platforms.
A cantilever workbench is a work bench designed with a rigid rear steel panel and a rigid front beam. These heavy duty industrial workbench features are meant to strengthen the structure of the workbench, which is typically used in warehouses and material handle and storage facilities.
In addition to individual workbenches, there are many workstation assemblies available in conjunction with them. These include modular workstations, computer workbenches, command operation centers
Modular workstations are equipped with adjustable shelves, tables, and bins which workers can arrange to optimize their work space. Like the portable workbench, modular workstations ensure practicality and efficiency.
Computer workbenches are a type of workstation designed for office or technical data settings. Sometimes known as an electronic workbench, a computer workbench usually comes equipped with space for outlets, a keyboard, and lighting. It may also come equipped with CPU holders, designed to keep computer processing units safely off the floor or tabletop and out of the way.
Ergonomic workstations adapt the work environment to the worker, instead of forcing the worker to adapt to his or her work environment.
Command Operation Centers
Just remember: the key elements of the ergonomic work bench and workstation design are adjustability and modularity. These elements are especially important when more than one person must utilize the same work benches.
Command operation centers are common in information technology fields. They accommodate technological equipment for organizing computer and electronic equipment, including display monitors, keyboards, and processors, in a readily accessible structure.
Advantages of Work Benches
There are many benefits to workbenches, no matter the exact type. These include: organization, essential items, and tools within arm reach, increased productivity, stress relief, and a reduction in worker strains and injuries.
Workbench manufacturers offer so many accessories; you can be sure that they have what you need. Some examples of common and sought-after accessories include drawer units, cabinets, casters, workbench software, adjustable shelf units, power outlets, lights, integrated electrical components, privacy screens, locks, footrests, and more. Any of these accessories may be of use to you, depending on your application. To get the best workbench for your application, discuss your specs and preferences with your supplier at length.
Typically, workbenches and workstations, particularly modular workbenches, come with in-depth instructions on installation. If you have questions, ask your manufacturer.
All workbenches, whether it’s a heavy duty workbench or a modular workbench, must meet the standard requirements of OSHA. You’ll also want to make sure that your workbench has been guaranteed with ANSI certification and ISO certification. From there, most requirements relate to your application and industry.
Things to Consider
Other Ways You Can Increase Efficiency and Productivity
At some time in the past, every office manager has probably recognized that their employees are not working at their fullest capacity or potential. Even the best performing workers seem to be affected by poorly designed workspaces. Employee-engagement activities have not fulfilled the promise of maximum productivity and new and tenured employees are equally stifled by office furniture, lighting, and other environmental factors.
However, a multitude of science-based research has concluded that, by redesigning your office work station, you can not only engage new employees but also reinvigorate the careers of your most loyal staff members.
Setting daily goals for your employees, encouraging them to take frequent breaks, and streaming music throughout the office can achieve short-term gains in productivity. However, broader changes in furniture configuration are a more lasting approach to improving your office culture.
To get you started, here are a few ideas and simple techniques for boosting motivation and improving employee performance.
Give them some sunshine: On earth, there is no better and larger source of energy than the sun. If your office configuration does not allow your employees to experience direct sunlight throughout the day, encourage walks outside or even install special lighting to achieve the same effect. Sunrays are a very important source of mood-boosting energy.
Maintain a pleasant office temperature: Temperature also plays a major part in determining the interest level and productivity of staff members. Make sure that your air conditioning unitsare well maintained and that you employ proper ventilation techniques. Monitor office temperature settings to ensure that all workers enjoy a constant temperature.
Play music if appropriate: Some people are motivated by music or other background noise when working in an office setting. However, if you choose to stream constant music to your base of employees, take their preferences into consideration and avoid music containing a lot of dialogue or other distracting elements.
Feng Shui or Vastu: Feng Shui is Chinese and Vastu is from India. Both of these ancient arts (based on science) have proven mood enhancing properties. Most modern furniture design firms can incorporate Feng Shui and Vastu principles as an added measure of employee engagement.
A Note on Choosing Your Manufacturer or Supplier
You will find that there are many companies that can offer you workbenches, and that, thus, it is hard to discern between them. Our advice? Go with a company that makes you their number one priority. Find the supplier that demonstrates respect for your timeline, budget, requirements, and restrictions. The right manufacturer for you isn’t the manufacturer with the most accolades, but rather the one with the best customer service record. Find the one by browsing those companies we have listed near the top of this page.
Work Bench Types
common in information technology fields, accommodate technological equipment
for organizing computer and electronic equipment, including display
monitors, keyboards and processors, in a readily accessible structure.
- Computer workbenches
- CPU holders
consist of furniture that can be adjusted to overcome repetitive strain
injury, carpal tunnel syndrome and muscular skeletal disorder, which
can be caused by uncomfortable and static workstations. Adjustable ergonomic
workstation designs conform to special needs.
are sturdy tables used in the construction and repair of industrial
products and have adjustable shelves, drawers and height. Workbenches
are common in the woodworking and automotive industries.
accommodate a variety of industrial applications, including shipping
and receiving, packaging and mail sorting. Industrial workstations,
which improve organization and efficiency, are available in a variety
of setups containing drawers, shelves and side tables.
- includes the various pieces that are used in laboratory work stations.
- Metal workbenches provide a rugged, durable and efficient space where multiple or specific tasks may be carried out in industrial, commercial and residential environments.
- , or cubicles, have components that can be rearranged into different configurations.
- Packing tables are workstations or workbenches for packaging products for
shipping or distribution; packing tables have various features and accessories
to speed workflow while maintaining an ergonomically safe working environment.
- Portable workbenches are non-stationary, task driven workspaces designed to provide efficient and mobile units in a variety of industrial, commercial and residential environments.
- Shipping tables are used in distribution centers as workstations for packaging,
labeling and shipping products. Tables may have adjustable features and
ergonomic design for safe, efficient workflow.
- Steel workbenches are task driven workspaces made of a number of steel alloys and designed to provide a rugged, durable and efficient work environment in industrial, commercial and residential settings.
creates a workstation that is able to hold large amounts of computer
and electronic equipment and is sturdier than regular office furniture.
- are spaces designed for specific tasks.
- Workstation furniture is a broad category that includes all furnishings, such as seating, tables and cabinets, needed and implemented in a given work area to promote organization, safety and productivity in industrial, commercial and domestic occupational environments.
Work Bench Terms
The study of the relative measurement of bodily dimensions, including
height, weight, and girth; these measurements are considered when analyzing
padding that reduces strain placed on legs and feet during standing.
– The study of
the effects of biology and movement on the human body. Particular attention
is paid to muscular movement.
– Inflammation of
the bursa, small lubrication-secreting sacs located between bones and
tendons, caused by overexertion.
– The fibrous
tunnel that runs through the wrist, or carpal, bones, carrying necessary
tendons to the hand.
– A repetitive
strain injury (RSI); Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include
numbness, burning, tingling, and wrist and hand pain. The disorder afflicts
those who use their wrist in repetitive actions on a regular basis, including
typists, computer workers and some sports players and musicians.
CPU Holder - A sliding, swiveling bracket used to hold computers' central
processing units in order to maximize workspace utility and to provide easy,
ergonomic access to CPU ports.
- A repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by inflammation
of the tissues surrounding tendons on the radial side of the wrist. Like
carpal tunnel syndrome, this disorder affects those who use their wrists
repetitively; the disorder can be treated with splints, medication, cortisone
injections and in advanced cases, surgery.
– Any physical
alteration of a production facility including workstations, equipment
or other applicable parts of the work area to lower or avert risk factor
– A form of tendonitis
of the elbow caused by overstressing the joints in the elbow. Symptoms
include pain during various wrist and arm movements, and treatments include
cold and heat therapy, braces, massage therapy, steroid injections and
– The stretching of
a joint, usually through straightening.
– The main nerve
running down the arm into the forearm. The median nerve is responsible
for supplying the hand with feeling and movement.
system containing bones, tendons, muscles, ligaments and cartilage.
– Fibers that transmit
signals or impulses between the brain and body parts; these impulses direct
feeling and movement of the body.
– The bodily
position in which muscles remain relaxed, not stressed. During extended
activity, neutral positions decrease the likelihood of strain and injury.
– Regulating the workers
movement rate through various work environment methods, such as pay inducements,
peer pressure or production pressure, a continuously moving conveyor at
a constant speed.
– This refers to both
an alteration to current production equipment of workplaces to render
them appropriate for additional workers, or, a reassessment of the patterns
of occurrence of tasks. The redesign is more costly to implement than
the integration of ergonomic standards in the preliminary job design.
Also referred to as Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD), this is a term given
to disorders resulting from the overuse or misuse of a group of muscles.
Exertion whereby the same stance is maintained throughout the duration
of the action.
– Body part responsible
for connecting muscles and bones as well as relaying movement from muscles
– Inflammation of
the tendons; usually occurs in conjunction with tenosynovitis.
of the protective coverings guarding the tendons.
of finger tendons that causes the finger to stick in a particular position.
Trigger finger is caused by overuse or misuse of the tendons.