It is the betterment of health, comfort
and productivity of professionals carrying the weight of
tools, instruments and other gear that has driven Duckbill
to engineer and advance their platforms.
Extensive research has gone into what, and more importantly
why, most professionals carrying heavy loads deal with
chronic aches, pains and discomfort.
It's not unusual for a typical fully equipped
and loaded tool belt to weigh between 6 and 16 pounds. If
the belt fails to carry the necessary weight evenly and
comfortably, then the users' body, specifically the muscular-skeletal,
nervous and circulatory system, must adjust. Here are the
effects on muscles and bones.
muscular skeletal system is impacted in at least five ways
by an improperly designed tool belt platform.
First: Tool and gear weight, when it's improperly
allocated around the waist, causes the user to compensate
in unnatural and unintended ways. With too much weight in
the front, the body compensates by pulling backward against
the weight. This causes a routine pelvic rotation and the
hyperextension of the spine causing cumulative pain and
Second: With too much weight on one side, the body
compensates by routinely leaning against the weight in the
offside direction resulting in a twist to the spine and
discomfort in the neck and shoulders.
Third: When the duty belt is cinched too tightly
it compresses the abdominal muscles and inhibits their full
functionality. The wearer is inclined to overuse the back
muscles to compensate for the cumulative weakness in the
abdominal muscles. The compensatory pull applied by the
back muscles is exacerbated among overweight useres. Again,
the routine pelvic rotation and the hyperextension of the
spine that results causes cumulative back pain and discomfort.
Fourth: When a tool belt and the accessories on
it are cinched too tight, a user will feel some nerve and
circulatory discomfort and often muscular-skeletal pain
caused by hyperextension of spine and associated muscles.
Fifth: Most tool belt platforms utilize slotted
modules and pouches. This allows for modules that carry
the weight of tools and gear to shift and creep along and
around a tool belt. With this movement comes compensatory
movement of the users' muscles. The instability of this
situation often leads to muscle fatigue and discomfort.
effects on nerves and circulation.
portion of the nervous system that innervates the lower
The lumbar plexus and the
sacral plexus, located at the lower end of the spinal cord
form a kind of fibrous conduit that funnels nerves and nerve
signals to and from the spinal cord. Lumbar nerves supply
sensory information toward the brain and motor signals to
the lower parts of the abdomen and back, the buttocks and
parts of the legs. And sacral nerves supply sensory information
toward the brain and motor signals to thighs and lower parts
of the legs and the feet. The longest nerve in the body
is the sciatic nerve. It emerges out of the sacral plexus
and down into each leg.
Most tool belts cross over the lumbosacral plexus and a
user will feel pain whenever the belt impinges on it. The
effect is continuous or near continuous pain and numbness
transmitted through the sciatic, sacral and lumbar nerves
in the lower back, in the thighs and lower legs and feet.
arterial portion of the circulatory system that carries
oxygenated blood to the lower extremities.
The thoracic aorta carries blood south. At waist
level the aorta bifurcates to feed the legs and lower extremities.
The blood to the legs is fed through the common iliac arteries
and the iliac extension through the femoral arteries. Blood
flow can be restricted at the front of the waist by a tool
belt. Good blood flow is a function of healthy blood pressure.
When blood circulation is constricted at the waist by a
combination of belt weight and/or belt tightness, blood
flow readjusts to compensate for the restriction. When blood
pressure is constricted, even temporarily, particularly
when it's being transported back to the heart through the
veins, a user can feel slightly dizzy, experience temporary
shortness of breath or reduced blood flow to the skin, feet
and hands. These areas may become cold, temporarily less
flexible, less useable and slightly discolored. Cold blood
is also slightly more viscous and compounds the transport-through-a-constricted-space
The Duckbill AXIAlign approach seeks to
maintain the axial alignment of the spinal column and eliminate
or reduce torque, shear and stress in two ways. One:
by sharing the load among more of the purpose-built muscular
and skeletal structures in the body. Two: by giving
the user flexibility and control over his/her body type
and where/how/when the weight is most comfortably allocated.
power zone is the area closest to the spinal
column when it's erect. Good ergonomic design insists on
maximizing user comfort and ease of tool access without
violating the power zone.
We have identified
the design principles that output a platform ergonomically
loaded with interchangeable task-specific modules that are
configured to purge distended weight.
docking technology is a patented solution to modules that
shift and creep along a tool belt. By utilizing Velcro®
on our modules, belts and suspenders in an overlapping clamshell
design, we can assure that once positioned, our modules
will not move. This leads to two main benefits. First:
It provides a stable plaform without the need for incremental
muscle adjustment during the course of the day which often
leads to muscles fatigue and discomfort. Second:
With 100% connectivity between modules and belt, 360°
of support and weight distribution is achieved around the
users' waist which provides a "suspension" of
the weight leading to a more ergonomic and comfortable experience.
Module and Tool Location
a result of Duckbill's
docking technology, the user is able to position our modules
anywhere on the platform they choose. This allows for the
most comfortable and convenient location and tool access
for each individual. If wearing our suspenders, the vertical
plane of the front struts can also be utilized, putting
often used gear within easy reach. If the tool mix changes,
our modules are easy to reposition, once again putting the
tool-set in the most convenient location for the individual.
This all reduces the number
of bending, twisting, lifting and shearing events,
to a more productive and comfortable experience.