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Ergonomic SaaS Automation Required During COVID-19

by Mark Heidebrecht & Sam Bradbury   |   April, 2020

SaaS | Internet of Things | Manufacturing | Sensors

Ergonomics describes the interaction between humans and other elements of a system, in this case, factory employees and their respective industrial machinery. COVID-19 urgency has forced a new definition for good ergonomics which applies design principles to co-ordinate the devices, systems, and safe working conditions in a factory. Until now it was nearly impossible to cost-effectively automate ergonomic functions. In-depth plant-site visits and evaluations were needed.

Technology breakthroughs (permitting automated ergonomics) ensure the critical factors in the return to work process are documented and measured. During COVID-19 manufacturers are learning to operate beyond the crisis mode. Operations managers, occupational health and safety managers, and safety/quality professionals are able to use a remote methodical and exacting process ensuring ergonomic success.

COVID-19 has forced manufacturers to be agile and inventive without sacrificing the core necessities mandated with ergonomic disciplines. Small or large manufacturers cannot test against a measure until that measure is accurate and reliable.

Automated Cost-Effective Cloud-Based Ergonomics

Creating an automated certification process to train providers in the steps and accurate collection of physical demands is a game-changing event. Most larger manufacturers spend six figures to capture, document, and train on ergonomic best practices. Small manufactures have never had a cost-effective cloud-based solution, yet carry the same legal, ethical, and financial exposure as big corporations. These liabilities are even more exacerbated during COVID-19. Now there is a patent-pending process to ensure the knowledge and systems of even the smallest manufacturers have protection.

Ergonomics: Understanding the Physical Demands of the Job

A robust physical demand documentation process using automated solutions is the foundation of functional testing, post-offer testing, and return to work process. These physical demands are being redefined during COVID-19 where physical distancing must now be part of the automated solution and data-driven analysis.

Automation via remote SaaS (Software as a Service) documents the physical demand story for all parties involved: the doctor, the employer, the employee, the case manager, the insurer, the specialists, legal, and the rehabilitation professional. A single document generated remotely or at the plant can present the full "picture" of an individual's job requirements. Ergonomics International devised a simple cost-effective solution which uses peer-reviewed definitions to help standardize and automate the process of collecting physical demands.

Ergonomic Automation Parallels Manufacturing Facility Modernization

Long before COVID-19 manufacturing facilities have been using industrial automation as part of the modernization process. The undeniable benefits of increased productivity, improved efficiency, and reduction in costs have meant that automation has quickly secured its place as a reigning champion of manufacturing operations.

All these advancements in machinery automation on the factory floor has not obviated the need for human workers, who still play a vital role in operations. For the human and machine collaboration to succeed, designing and creating an appropriate and effective level of interaction between workers and machinery defines the necessity for industrial ergonomics.

Whether currently working in an essential manufacturing operation or awaiting resumption of work as permitted by city, state, or federal leaders, the ability to remotely (via SaaS application) address ergonomics is vital. By increasing human well-being, good ergonomic design improves the overall performance of a system and its workers.

Automated Ergonomics Prove to be Silver Lining in COVID-19 Pandemic

Manufacturers are already opting for automated equipment to speed up and improve their productivity; too often the calculous of OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) has failed to consider an ergonomically designed environment.
Mark Heidebrecht,is a managing partner of Ergonomics International. He has provided forensic and expert witness services in the areas of biomechanics, human factors, ergonomics, and work physiology. He has testified in over 75 State Court and United States Federal Court cases as an expert witness and presented testimony at the Federal OSHA hearing regarding the National Ergonomic Standard. Heidebrecht has developed and implemented ergonomic programs and processes across North America. Contact Mark at See More Details.

Sam Bradbury , is a managing partner of Ergonomics International. Bradbury is an international speaker and instructor on the topics of functional capacity, ergonomics, human factors, injury reduction, and engineered solutions for improved workplace quality, efficiency, and human error reduction. Expertise includes testing and measuring the physical demands of work as well as return to work testing criteria, prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace, the effective implementation of ergonomic risk reduction processes, upper/lower body functional testing, human factors analysis/error reduction, and ergonomic team development. Bradbury is certified by the Board of Certified Professional Ergonomists as a Certified Ergonomist and holds a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. See More Details.

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