Are People Working With Or Against Machines?

Are People Working With Or Against Machines?

So many times, when a major piece of equipment is being purchased, the focus is on the quality of the product and quoted cycle time. These are very important attributes for consideration. However, what is often forgotten is the ability of the people that are interacting with the machine.How many people are required to load and operate the equipment? Are people stuck at one station feeding the equipment? Are people able to feed materials in an ergonomic manner?These questions are very important to determine the safety, capability, productivity, and cost of the entire system.

The first step is to separate human work and machine work by breaking down the elements of the work to be performed. Careful analysis of the interaction of the work will help you determine problems, such as the human waiting for the machine to complete the cycle, excess walkingand being isolated from other operators, to name a few. Creating meaningful and productive workfor employees allows them to maximize their potential, allows them to feel valued and understand their contribution to the overall system. This process also helps define the issues and corrective actions that may be needed to improve the equipment.



 

Having guiding principles, such as not putting an employee on an “island,” and creating standardized work is important. Isolating an employee to an area away from other people, regardless if the throughput is increased or decreased because of demand, the employee is still stuck with the same work content and may not be fully utilized. The basis for productive and efficient work is standardized work. It provides the baseline expectation and is the tool for problem solving if the person cannot perform the standardized work.If a person is trying to follow the standardized work, but cannot, then the focus is on the process, not the person.


Some other techniques to consider include providing a magazine of parts for the employee to load so they may be able to fill many different types of parts on a route. Make sure to have an automatic part unload capability. The person and the equipment will not be efficient if the person has to unload each part manually. The goal is not to focus on just one aspect of utilization such as the equipment only, but to design a system that has the right trade off between human and machine utilization. This can only be accomplished by separating the person’s work from the equipment’s work as much as possible.

Once the work content is defined, it is imperative to ensure the tasks meet ergonomic requirements. It is our responsibility as employers to ensure all work is safe. Assessments include weight, frequency, posture, and other related people factors. When issues are found, the equipment, part magazine, fixture, or even the part must be redesigned to ensure the work is ergonomic.

All of these factors must be explored before the equipment design is released. Unfortunately, many of theseconsiderations are not addressed until the equipment is on the floor,which forcesexpensive adjustments. If the proper details are defined at the beginning, the system is much more likely to have a successful launch because the person is working with the equipment, not against it.

Read Also

Gerdau's process control ensures consistent quality

Gerdau's process control ensures consistent quality

John Heerema, Manager Technical Services - SBQ and Mario Pecchia, Regional Sales Representative, Gerdau Long Steel North America
History Of Additive Manufacturing Metal In The Aerospace Industry

History Of Additive Manufacturing Metal In The Aerospace Industry

Andrew Carter, Sr Manufacturing Engineer At Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
The Critical Role Of Am In Industry 4.0.

The Critical Role Of Am In Industry 4.0.

Sander skovhus michelsen, lead additive manufacturing engineer, ame additive manufacturing, grundfos
Submarine-propellers: big challenge for the

Submarine-propellers: big challenge for the "machining twins"

Elena Schmidt-Schmiedebach, Marketing Lead, North America, Starrag USA Inc.
Seeing a Digital Future for Manufacturing with Machine Vision

Seeing a Digital Future for Manufacturing with Machine Vision

Tyler Vizek, Project Innovation Engineer at DMDII and Caralynn Collens, CEO at UI LABS