Methodology Development for Ergonomic Analysis of Work-Cells in Virtual Environment 2008-01-1481
In the last years the most important automotive OEM have given more importance to job organization and optimization in the plants for productivity and legal reasons. The continuous request to produce different new models in few years oblige OEM to develop more flexible assembly lines and better methods for job planning on the same lines. In the meantime, safety norms and product quality reasons request to improve working condition also according to international standards.
In this paper, the authors show a new method for process design with the final goal to optimize assembly tasks. The method is based on the possibility to apply preventive ergonomics and feasibility analysis of the assembly task through a virtual simulation investigating general feasibility of the task and risks of muscle-skeletal pathologies from incongruous postures and movements.
Using Digital Human Models (DHM) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools, it is possible to simulate manual assembly tasks in a very preliminary moment of the process development where designers and engineers have only virtual models to check assembly feasibility and to design the final bill of process. Through the use of virtual manikins, designers can vary workers movements to solve complex problems related to human movements and posture recognition bringing more realistic and reliable simulations to systematically investigate workplaces for a wide variety of users and operative solutions.
On the methodological point of view, a special attention has been given to ergonomics evaluation methods that, usually, have an experimental nature and therefore specific adaptations are required to use them on digital humans in virtual environments. In the paper, the authors show an application of the new method to an interesting case study. The simulations suggest new solutions which bring to a more ergonomic and efficient task.