Improving work environments to avoid fluctuation

May 18, 2018
Workplace ergonomics

The design of factories and production lines is of great importance as a significant proportion of the working-age population of Europe works in different factories, plants, and production-related positions, and labor shortage is also an acute problem in this sector.

Virtual planning of workplaces

The German Association of Engineers (VDI) has introduced the concept of a virtual factory, which means that the factory is made up of digital models, methods, and tools, including simulation and three-dimensional display, which can be achieved by continuous data management integration. This can be used in the design phase, not a substitute for real-life installment, but as it precedes it, it can complement it perfectly.

But what makes pre-planning in digital space before a physical implementation so important?

According to a survey carried out by the VDI, the most common errors during implementation are in the management software. Correcting these errors can add up to 70% of the installment time, which might result in 15% of the total project time. Correcting mistakes can lead to delays, loss of earnings or payment of penalties. If, however, the virtual and then the real prototype is not verified, the defective products and the health problems of workers may follow, which can lead to dissatisfaction, further loss of income and later to fluctuation.

The basic idea of the virtual installment is to advance those activities of a traditional installation which does not require physical equipment. This method is primarily used in situations where the implementation of the control engineering software is a significant part of the overall functionality of the system (mechanics, electronics, fluid technology, control technology) allowing ergonomically suitable and safe workplaces. As it is increasingly involved, the number of virtual installment applications increases as well.

In Germany, the importance of the use of different tests and the design of ergonomic workplaces has already been recognized earlier. As a matter of fact, employers pay a fee in a system similar to compulsory liability insurance. At workplaces, where the number of sick leave days rises, and health problems are increasing, the authority intervenes. If it turns out that this is the result of ergonomic issues, the insurance premium is increased.

There is no such trend yet in Eastern Europe, but careful planning and attention can improve a lot on the work environment. Based on statistical data, the number of people eligible for work is decreasing while the average age is increasing. Therefore, to maintain the present level of productivity, the employees should be kept in work as long as it is possible. Ergo: health preservation is important.

To achieve this, simple questions have to be answered while designing the working environment. For example, does the worker reach the button; can he/she work with fewer body turns; is the monitor positioned correctly; can he/she kick the head when he/she is bending; should the arms be raised above shoulder height?

Different techniques can be used to analyze workplaces. For example, when applying Motion Capture technology, the workers are provided with sensors (shoulder, arm, knee, waist, wrist, leg), capturing motion patterns and then implanting the moves onto a digital model. Movements can are also be recorded with a camera. 8-24 cameras are required to operate a single system, but two cameras recording at the same time can be used to capture a single marker, from which coordinates can be defined in a three-dimensional space. The more such analyzes are carried out, the more data is available to create the perfect profiles possible.

Additionally, workstations can also be classified according to different ergonomic considerations. By comparing these and the profiles, then making a few clicks we can get a thorough picture of the workers, at what positions can they perform their tasks and what needs to be improved to create a more optimal working environment. After these conditions have been fulfilled, workplaces can be further improved by paying special attention to the employment of the elderly or disabled workers. Of course, the systems mentioned above can also be to your assistance.

Why it is reasonable to set up a budget for ergonomic planning

It is a reasonable question, why a particular factory should spend a considerable sum to carry out virtual design, test the work environment, and design and analyze profiles

To answer this question, those service providers can help who specialized in virtual product development. They gathered many years of experience in this field. In the ViveLab system, for example, all gender, age, percentile and nationality human models can be found from a 150 cm tall 50-kilogram weight female to a 190 cm tall 110-kilogram weight male. The company stores all data in a cloud-based system, therefore, the users pay only for the service when they are using it. They receive authority to the server, and through that, they can use their profile after uploading their own database.

With such a solution optimal work environment can be created, the ergonomics of the workplace can also be improved, and at the same time, the number of workplace accidents and loss of working time due to sick leave can be avoided.

Well, this is the reason, why proper ergonomics of workplaces should be paid particular attention. As a result, fluctuation would decrease to a healthy level.

ViveLab

ViveLab Ergo is a cloud-based ergonomic lab for modeling objects, machines and human beings moving together in a virtual 3D space. Thanks to its massive anthropometric database and 7 built-in ergonomic analyses it precisely simulates, analyzes and validates human interactions with industrial and other environments. With the help of the ViveLab Ergo the ergonomic analysis of constructions is possible in the planning phase without prototype production by simulation in the virtual space.

Our mission is to provide fast and accurate three-dimensional virtual ergonomic tests, analysis and planning for wide range of companies to create optimal working environments and workflows for health, efficiency and competitiveness.

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