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Improving ergonomics in your production

A digital twin enables you to improve how you take ergonomics into account early on in the production design process. Simulations are used to prevent all of the problems resulting from bad ergonomics. Etteplan’s competence ensures that ergonomics receives the attention it deserves in design.

Demand for successful ergonomics in production environments is growing exponentially for at least two reasons. First of all, more plant managers and production managers want to do away with bad ergonomics because the negative impacts are so clear: inefficient production, quality flaws and weakening well-being among employees. Simultaneously, the forward march of digitalization has enabled work ergonomics to be factored into production and machine design early on in the engineering project.

Ergonomics modelling – which largely means the modelling of a device’s functionality – helps identify ergonomic flaws right there on the designer’s desk. Implementing ergonomic solutions at the initial stages is clearly cheaper than making changes to completed production lines.

 

Tackling ergonomics using a digital twin

 

When ergonomics is improved through technology, digital twins march to the fore. A digital twin is a virtual model of a physical machine, device or an entire production process, an identical copy that fully corresponds with its physical prototype in terms of functionality.

The digital twin allows the entire production process, including machines and devices and their work processes, to be observed from an ergonomics viewpoint in a digital world, even before the decision to invest in a production line has been made.

The target may be just a single workstation: Does it function well in terms of ergonomics or could it be improved in some way? Standing desks could offer a more ergonomic working position if it they were adjustable or turnable.

In addition, collaborative robots could carry out monotonous and physically stressful, repetitive tasks such as screwing, gluing or lifting on behalf of people. Different robot, lifting device and logistics solutions enable the focusing of people’s work where its value is greatest – not on tasks that a robot could perform just as well.

We can gain extremely important information on which to base engineering when production lines are viewed in the simulation model in light of the standards applying to ergonomics. Standards offer a useful guide to what might be a suitable number of repetitive motions or suitable weight for a lifted object. Also installation angles or movements harmful to the musculoskeletal system could be observed.

When ergonomics parameters are fed into the simulation model, we can see what works and what needs improving. If (and when) improvement areas are found, we can look for solutions and incorporate them in the design of a production line or machine.

Traditionally, digital simulation tools have been used to model a machine’s or device’s functions and other technical characteristics. Because incorporating ergonomics into the design of a production line has not been possible, operators working on the lines have played a secondary role in the engineering process.

Today, digital technology enables the modelling of a person as part of a virtually operating production concept. The work carried out by people and their working hours can be modelled through the target production capacity, which lets us find out how many workstations and machines and how much automation is needed and how many employees are required.

 

Etteplan’s expertise injects ergonomics into engineering

 

Currently, ergonomics holds a key role in the designing of new production. Existing production is rarely worth changing simply based on ergonomics, but it is common when old production is modernized for one reason or another for the ergonomics aspect to be included. If there are problems with individual work units or workstations, they are easy to solve.

Whether we are dealing with new or existing production, the aim of simulation is to prevent all problems resulting from bad ergonomics.

Through its digital modelling expertise, Etteplan can be involved in the process and ensure that ergonomics receives the attention it deserves in designing production. We act either directly as the designer or as a partner between the client and technology suppliers.

Iiro Aalto

Iiro Aalto

BU Director Engineering Solutions
+358 10 307 3511
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Iiro Aalto
Iiro Aalto
BU Director
Engineering Solutions