Digital Technologies to Support Human Factors Engineering in Manufacturing System Design: Theory and Applications

A special issue of Machines (ISSN 2075-1702). This special issue belongs to the section "Industrial Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 July 2024 | Viewed by 4697

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Engineering Enzo Ferrari, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
Interests: human factors; ergonomics; digital manufacturing; virtual reality; digital simulations; Operator 4.0; user experience; human monitoring

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering Enzo Ferrari, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
Interests: virtual prototyping and industrial applications; human-centered design; human–computer interaction and human–machine interfaces; user experience; collaborative virtual environments; co-design; product–service systems

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Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy
Interests: human factors; ergonomics; augmented reality; human-centred design; user experience; human monitoring; human-computer interaction; virtual prototyping

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The study of human factors (HFs) in working environments, including the physical, psychological, and physiological characteristics of workers, is a hot topic in manufacturing, and it is strictly connected to the quality of work. In fact, the goal of human factors engineering (HFE) is the definition of proper design methods and techniques to enhance human wellbeing and the overall system performance at the same time, according to the International Ergonomics Association.

Despite this, HFs are still rarely considered in engineering and manufacturing, mostly due to production costs and the narrow time to market, and in general, limited attention is paid to the correct integration of humans in the factory. Although various works in the literature demonstrate a direct correlation between worker wellbeing and system performance, companies are sceptic about the benefits human factors can have on production; thus, HFs are rarely considered during the design process of complex systems and machines.

In this context, the concept of User eXperience (UX) acquires a greater importance, which is defined by ISO standard 9241-11:2018 as the user’s perceptions and responses that result from the use and/or anticipated use of a system, product or service. Users’ perceptions and responses include users’ emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, comfort and behaviors that occur before, during and after use. Considering these aspects is essential in order to design machines and complex systems that fit user and operator needs, paving the way for a new way of design characterized by a strong human-centered vision. The use of digital technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, digital human simulations, human monitoring and motion capture systems could bridge the gap between industrial requirements and operators’ needs, providing reliable tools for HFI in industry.

This Special Issue will be devoted to state-of-the-art research on the integration of human factors in industry and applications of digital technologies, such as virtual prototyping, virtual and augmented reality, digital twins, digital human simulations, human monitoring and motion capture systems. We seek submissions with an original perspective and advanced thinking on the theme addressed. Research on theories, simulations, experiments, and engineering applications is welcome.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Fabio Grandi
Dr. Margherita Peruzzini
Dr. Agnese Brunzini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Machines is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • human factors and ergonomics
  • user-centered design
  • human–machine interfaces
  • user experience
  • Operator 4.0
  • adaptive interfaces
  • human tracking and monitoring
  • digital twin
  • virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality
  • digital human modeling and simulation

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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16 pages, 2557 KiB  
Article
Ergonomic Design of an Adaptive Automation Assembly System
by Marco Bortolini, Lucia Botti, Francesco Gabriele Galizia and Cristina Mora
Machines 2023, 11(9), 898; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines11090898 - 10 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1261
Abstract
Ergonomics is a key factor in the improvement of health and productivity in workplaces. Its use in improving the performance of a manufacturing process and its positive effects on productivity and human performance is drawing the attention of researchers and practitioners in the [...] Read more.
Ergonomics is a key factor in the improvement of health and productivity in workplaces. Its use in improving the performance of a manufacturing process and its positive effects on productivity and human performance is drawing the attention of researchers and practitioners in the field of industrial engineering. This paper proposes an ergonomic design approach applied to an innovative prototype of an adaptive automation assembly system (A3S) equipped with Microsoft Kinect™ for real-time adjustment. The system acquires the anthropometric measurements of the operator by means of the 3-D sensing device and changes its layout, arranging the mobile elements accordingly. The aim of this study was to adapt the assembly workstation to the operator dimensions, improving the ergonomics of the workstation and reducing the risks of negative effects on workers’ health and safety. The case study of an assembly operation of a centrifugal electric pump is described to validate the proposed approach. The assembly operation was simulated at a traditional fixed workstation and at the A3S. The shoulder flexion angle during the assembly tasks at the A3S reduced between 18% and 47%. The ergonomic risk assessment confirmed the improvement of the ergonomic conditions and the ergonomic benefits of the A3S. Full article
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24 pages, 7401 KiB  
Article
ApOL-Application Oriented Workload Model for Digital Human Models for the Development of Human-Machine Systems
by Johannes Sänger, Lukas Wirth, Zhejun Yao, David Scherb, Jörg Miehling, Sandro Wartzack, Robert Weidner, Andreas Lindenmann and Sven Matthiesen
Machines 2023, 11(9), 869; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines11090869 - 29 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 724
Abstract
Since musculoskeletal disorders are one of the most common work-related diseases for assemblers and machine operators, it is crucial to find new ways to alleviate the physical load on workers. Support systems such as exoskeletons or handheld power tools are promising technology to [...] Read more.
Since musculoskeletal disorders are one of the most common work-related diseases for assemblers and machine operators, it is crucial to find new ways to alleviate the physical load on workers. Support systems such as exoskeletons or handheld power tools are promising technology to reduce the physical load on the humans. The development of such systems requires consideration of the interactions between human and technical systems. The physical relief effect of the exoskeleton can be demonstrated in experimental studies or by simulation with the digital human model (DHM). For the digital development of these support systems, an application-oriented representation of the workload is necessary. To facilitate digital development, an application-oriented workload model (ApOL model) of an overhead working task is presented. The ApOL model determines the load (forces, torques) onto the DHM during an overhead screw-in task using a cordless screwdriver, based on experimental data. The ApOL model is verified by comparing the simulated results to the calculated values from a mathematical model, using experimental data from three participants. The comparison demonstrates successful verification, with a maximum relative mean-absolute-error (rMAE) of the relevant load components at 11.4%. The presented ApOL model can be utilized to assess the impact of cordless screwdriver design on the human workload and facilitate a strain-based design approach for support systems e.g., exoskeletons. Full article
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Review

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27 pages, 4709 KiB  
Review
The Role of Ergonomic and Human Factors in Sustainable Manufacturing: A Review
by Bassam Hasanain
Machines 2024, 12(3), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines12030159 - 26 Feb 2024
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Abstract
The study and implementation of ergonomics are vital for the growth of industries and improvement in work cultures. Sustainable manufacturing cannot be achieved without the implementation of human-factor ergonomics. Ergonomics is used to analyze the link between research studies and industrial practices in [...] Read more.
The study and implementation of ergonomics are vital for the growth of industries and improvement in work cultures. Sustainable manufacturing cannot be achieved without the implementation of human-factor ergonomics. Ergonomics is used to analyze the link between research studies and industrial practices in order to maximize the efficiency of processes by keeping in view the well-being of workforce. Designing tools, tasks, machines, systems, jobs, and settings for efficient, safe, and successful human usage involves applying knowledge about human behavior, abilities, and limitations. Workers are the backbone of the manufacturing economy. The review outlines significant advancements in preventing ergonomic problems during the design stage of the manufacturing process to achieve sustainability. The bibliometric analysis is used to identify the literature base for ergonomics. To maximize the benefits of ergonomics and to integrate sustainable practices, various methods are required to organize existing processes and technologies. The human-centered design identifies problems and aligns the output with the intended objectives of sustainability. The goal of human factors and ergonomics is to successfully integrate people into systems and develop the manufacturing processes around the well-being of workers and sustainability principles. Similarly, ergoecology, eco-ergonomics, and green ergonomics are frequently used for sustainable manufacturing. Achieving sustainability in manufacturing is not possible without considering human ergonomics. Ergonomists frequently research management, planning, and other topics to increase the efficiency of the manufacturing process. Efficient worker performance and quality of life can be enhanced through work design, management, and organizational ergonomics. Human ergonomics relates sustainability with cognitive variables such as situational awareness, human reliability, and decision-making abilities. This review explains the role of human factors and ergonomics for sustainable manufacturing. Full article
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