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Library: Patient Repositioner

Aluminum Extrusion is the Clear Choice for the New Standard in Patient Repositioning

The Hercules Patient Repositioning System was the winner of the ET Foundation 2014 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition in the Professional Category and it is proving to be as much of a success in the healthcare market. According to Sheila Palmer, RN at Christ Hospital, "... Hercules will become the 'standard of care' in all hospitals..."

Aluminum extrusion plays a part in many advanced healthcare technologies, but Hercules is one of the best examples demonstrating the variety of ways in which aluminum extrusion can be utilized in this growing industry. Competition judge Joseph Benedyk, Editor of Light Metal Age magazine and Research Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, said of the design, "This entry is truly an engineered product made of multiple extruded components engineered to work together to solve a real world problem in the medical field. It's a great example of how extrusions can save time and money."

The benefits of the system are many, thanks to the superior design using aluminum extrusions. When caregivers have to reposition a patient it causes discomfort to the patient and the caregivers, as well as a loss of dignity for the patient and a great deal of multiple caregivers' time. With Hercules, it takes a single caregiver 10 seconds and the push of a button to easily and comfortably reposition a patient in the bed, "reducing friction that can cause skin shear and tears since the patient moves with the sheet," according to the company. The Hercules Patient Repositioner also has advantages for Administration by demonstrating a high commitment to safety, enhancing caregiver recruitment and retention and helping to attain accreditations like Magnet status.

David Hornbach, Senior Product Designer for The Morel Company in Batesville, Indiana has said that Aluminum Extrusion and the Extrusion Industry played an integral part in the design, engineering, and eventual success of this project.

Aluminum Extrusion Design Made Easy
"The flexibility in the process allowed us to purchase a majority of our parts from one vendor," said Hornbach. "The aluminum extrusion community has done a terrific job making design data accessible for engineers. All tolerances and expectations were known before even meeting with a vendor. This took the 'black art' out of the design process and helped the Morel engineers have the initial designs manufacturing ready. The use of aluminum extrusions allowed us here at the Morel Company to bring [this product] to market quickly with low overhead and the lowest part total possible," said the designer.

The repositioner uses a special sheet that rolls into the aluminum housing, pulling the patient back up to the top of the bed. The unit is comprised of 7 unique aluminum extrusions that include two cavities - one that houses a roller that repositions the sheet, and one that houses the motor, clutch, circuitry, and power supply. Hornbach notes of the motor housing side of the unit, "This cavity was designed for easy service and creating a closure which could withstand our fluid ingress, EMC and grounding requirements."

Why Extruded Aluminum?
Extruded aluminum's many advantages provided the designer with a clear material process choice. "Creating a chassis that can handle the 600 in/lbs. of torque and still be small enough to fit under a cutout in the mattress made aluminum the natural choice." Other advantages included extruded aluminum's recyclability, strength-to-weight ratio, low tool cost, reduced parts, and more. Explaining the creative geometry that the extrusion design process affords, Hornbach noted, "The external shapes of some of the components (mainly the waterfall edge) are precise and are integral to the efficiency of the system. This geometry would be difficult to produce with other processes." In addition, using extrusions for this design saved the company money.

It seems that even more of the Hercules system may soon be made of aluminum extrusions. Hornbach has stated that they are currently reviewing how to replace more pieces with extrusions.

For additional information on the HERCULES PATIENT REPOSITIONING™ system visit

About the Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition
Interested in entering the Professional Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition? The ET Foundation Aluminum Extrusion Competition for professionals is held periodically. Visit for details.

All photos are courtesy of The Morel Company. ©The Morel Company, Batesville, IN