Increasing the Degree of Automation in a Production System: Consequences for the physical workload
Journal article, 2006

In spite of the continuous development of production systems work-related musculoskeletal disorders is still a large problem. One reason might be the difficulties in quantifying the ergonomic effects of interventions. In this paper ergonomic consequences of technical and organisational changes were quantified in a plant for producing slats for parquet flooring. Muscle activity, work postures and movements were assessed for neck/shoulders and upper limb by direct technical measurements at three generations of production lines. The physical workload for 31 operators at the manual, semi-automated and automated line was derived based on all existing work tasks. The work was characterised by moderate muscular loads, the 50th percentiles being 1.2-3.8%MVE for the neck/shoulder muscles, high repetitiveness and constant movements of the hands and a high prevalence of neck/shoulder disorders. There were statistically significant differences considering exposure levels between the work tasks within each line as well as between the lines. The semi-automated line implied reduced muscular load for all muscles registered but more constrained work postures. The automated line, on the other hand, required higher skills, offered less constrained postures, lower loads and repetitiveness for the hands as well as frequent changes between different physical load levels. Relevance to industry: When designing or redesigning production systems, technical solutions are often used to obtain 'beneficial' ergonomic conditions, implying a strive for low physical workloads. However, there is a risk that this might lead to more constrained physical activities. Possibilities for job enlargement must be thoroughly utilised. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

manufacturing technology

cross and multi-sciences approaches

perception of work and work conditions

work-related musculoskeletal disorders

statistical analyses

occupational health issues

manufacturing system design

ergonomics

Author

I. Balogh

Coop. for Optimisation of Industrial Production Systems regarding Productivity and Ergonomics (COPE

Skåne University Hospital

K. Ohlsson

Coop. for Optimisation of Industrial Production Systems regarding Productivity and Ergonomics (COPE

Skåne University Hospital

G. A. Hansson

Skåne University Hospital

Coop. for Optimisation of Industrial Production Systems regarding Productivity and Ergonomics (COPE

Tomas Engström

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Logistics & Transportation

S. Skerfving

Coop. for Optimisation of Industrial Production Systems regarding Productivity and Ergonomics (COPE

Skåne University Hospital

International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics

0169-8141 (ISSN)

Vol. 36 4 353 - 365

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

DOI

10.1016/j.ergon.2004.09.009

More information

Latest update

8/27/2018