Integration of activity-specific load alternation to reduce the physical demands during takt work
(From March 2021 to August 2022)
Employees in production often (approx. 45%) work in takt work to increase the productivity and transparency of manufacturing processes. In this context, there is a steady trend towards shorter cycle times, so that a cycle time of about one minute has become the norm in many manufacturing companies. In contrast, takt work is considered a significant risk factor for the development of various musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or repetitive strain injuries. This risk factor is caused by the short cycle times and the resulting frequent repetitions of uniform movements, which lead to high loads and stresses on muscles, tendons and nerves and often cause employees to miss work for long periods. Resulting occupational diseases are, for example, diseases of the tendon sheaths or the tendon gliding tissue or the carpal tunnel syndrome.
Innovative concepts and methods are needed for the targeted prevention of work-related MSDs and repetitive strain injuries, which can be used to ensure both economic and health-oriented takt work. For this purpose, the current research project explores whether the integration of specific load alternations into takt work contributes to a reduction of physical stress and thus has the potential to prevent occupational diseases. In the given context, specific load alternations mean that muscles loaded in one activity segment are specifically relieved or loaded differently in the next activity segment. Within the scope of the study, criteria for the targeted use of such specific load alternations will be developed and transferred into a methodological approach. With the help of this approach, companies should be enabled to take specific load alternations into account when redesigning or adapting takt work.
The research project is designed to run for 18 months. At the beginning of the research work, two reference assembly processes are to be developed for later investigations, which fulfill the essential characteristics of a cycled, manual work system. These are then analyzed with regard to physiological parameters of muscular stress and strain in order to identify unfavorable load changes between activity segments. Based on this, activity segments are reconfigured with regard to their specific loads, so that loaded body structures (muscles, tendons, ...) are relieved or loaded differently in the respective next activity segment.
To compare the reference assembly processes with the reconfigured processes, a proof-of-concept study is subsequently carried out at the laboratory of the IPS. In this study, the influence of specific load alternations on risk parameters for MSDs is experimentally investigated. Based on the obtained results, a methodological approach for the ergonomic design of cycled assembly processes is finally developed. This approach is intended to ensure that the potential benefits of integrating specific load alternations can also be sustainably guaranteed for applications in industrial practice.
This project is funded by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV).
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Location & approach
The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".Zum Lageplan