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The journal will publish peer-reviewed original papers, covering a variety of occupational ergonomics issues including, but not limited to: prevention of work-related musculoskeletal injuries, task analysis, work design, occupational accidents, cognitive engineering, disability management, legal issues and the modeling of physical/mental stress at work. Emphasis will be on reflection of the recent increase in health and safety in the workplace and related job redesign requirements.
The journal aims to:
- provide a forum for publication of up-to-date research findings in the broad area of occupational ergonomics and safety
- provide a vehicle for distribution of information on occupational ergonomics and safety related issues, developments, and theories.
Articles will not be confined to research areas, but will comprise a balanced mixture of basic and applied research, literature reviews, case studies, short communications and book reviews in the broad area of occupational ergonomics and safety.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Anthropomorphism is attribution of human form or behavior to non-human agents. Its application in a robot increases occupational safety and user acceptance and reduces the mental effort needed to anticipate robot behavior. OBJECTIVE: The research question focuses on how the anthropomorphic trajectory and velocity profile of a virtual gantry robot affects the predictability of its behavior in a placement task. METHODS: To investigate the research question, we developed a virtual environment consisting of a robotized assembly cell. The robot was given human movements, acquired through the use of an infrared based motion capture…system. The experiment compared anthropomorphic and constant velocity profiles. The trajectories were based on human movements of the hand-arm system. The task of the participants was to predict the target position of the placing movement as accurately and quickly as possible. RESULTS: Results show that the anthropomorphic velocity profile leads to a significantly shorter prediction time (α = 0.05). Moreover, the error rate and the mental effort were significantly less for the anthropomorphic velocity profile. Based on these findings, a speed-accuracy trade-off can be excluded. CONCLUSIONS: Participants were able to estimate and predict the target position of the presented movement significantly faster and more accurately when the robot was controlled by the human-like velocity profile.
Keywords: Self-optimizing production systems, anthropomorphism, direct human-robot interaction
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Social, technological, and legal changes imply new solutions to support the human worker in the industrial environment of the future. OBJECTIVE: Optimizing working conditions by adapting collaborative assistance systems in terms of human acceptance and well-being. The Institute of Ergonomics at the Technische Universität München (TUM) follows this approach with three novel technical solutions: Exoskeletons (Lifting Aid), collaborative robots (Cobot), and orthosis (Assembly Glove). METHODS: Fundamental scientific knowledge in cognition, anthropometrics, biomechanics, and physiology provide the basis for user-oriented designs and investigations via respiratory analysis, motion tracking, force measuring, and simulation. CONCLUSIONS:…The human, with its abilities, flexibility, and knowledge, will still be the key success factor in future working environments. Hence holistic approaches that support the human in a complementary way to raise overall performance have to be evolved to handle upcoming challenges like demographic change, a diverse workforce, and high stress jobs.
Keywords: Human Centered Assistance Applications, exoskeleton, collaborative robot, Cobot, orthosis, Human-Robot Interaction, Human-Robot Collaboration, factory of the future
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The best basis for health-conscious and competitive solutions is provided by an informed and prescient ergonomic interpretation of the product and system components of changing characteristics of user populations. OBJECTIVE: Software-based ergonomic evaluation permits the simulation and assessment of human-machine interactions. The goal is to develop suitable ergonomic tools that can estimate work-related stress by using virtual human and environment models. METHODS: Ergonomic findings and data from various sources were made available for computer-based processing. RESULTS: Development of software solutions that interact with a digital human model (``Visibility'', ``Body Forces'', ``Posture…Analysis'', and ``Manual Handling Evaluation''). CONCLUSIONS: Usage of ergonomic software still requires expert knowledge and involves comprehensive initial training. However, particularly in the context of iterative problem-solving processes, the software provides significant advantages because it allows for a comparison of different virtual solutions.
Keywords: Ergonomics tools, digital human model, product development process, Digital Prototyping, virtual ergonomics, Ergotyping
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Due to demographic change, less young workers are available and the overall number of workers will decrease. The length of absenteeism, especially due to musculoskeletal disorders, increases with higher age. OBJECTIVE: The range of performance between individuals grows wider although there are exceptions for different capabilities and elderly workers. Therefore, a capability-appropriate workplace design is necessary to meet physical workplace demands in the manufacturing industry and in order to preserve the workability of the workforce. METHODS: The human-centred design process was used to provide a design solution that meets the needs of the…workplace designers. The design solutions are evaluated three times. RESULTS: The high number of capabilities with a wide range of individual performance can be best captured and represented in a database. Therefore, a database is developed in which relevant physical manufacturing capabilities are collected and processed for workplace designers. Based on this information, design solutions for a prospective capability-appropriate workplace design can be derived relative to the age structure of the manufacturing plant. CONCLUSIONS: This gives the workplace designer propositions on how to plan their workplaces so as to avoid excessive stress and musculoskeletal disorders in the employees.
Keywords: Elderly worker, work-related capabilities, database for workplace design
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The increasing amount of available data in digital working environments raise considerable usability challenges. Beyond the trend for automation of such processes, strategic decisions still depend on humans in the loop who have to perceive, understand and process increasingly complex information and to make quick and correct decisions with considerable consequences for the effectiveness of the production process. OBJECTIVE: This work is concerned with a baseline experiment in which effects of data presentations and information complexity on speed and accuracy were studied taking table reading for inventory control as an example. METHODS:…Experimentally, the information complexity (number of lines per table, number of digits, specificity of labels) as well as operators' cognitive ability (perceptual speed) was examined in terms of decision speed and accuracy. In addition, learnability effects were assessed. RESULTS: Results show a significant effect of all factors on task performance. With increasing information complexity decision speed is considerably decreased. Operators' perceptual speed modulates performance. Low perceptual speed in conjunction with insufficient data presentation results in significantly lower task performance. CONCLUSIONS: Usability and user-centered information displaying is of vital importance for efficient operators' performance and to balance mental workload. The findings contribute to an understanding of the effects of single factors in combination for mental workload and may lead to better managerial decisions concerning the design of working conditions (e.g. by automating processes).