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Ergonomic Analysis of an Assembly Workstation to Identify Time Consuming And Fatigue Causing Factors to Improve The Productivity

S. Krishna Prasad1, M.S. Shamprasad2 and N. Deepak3
  1. M Tech Scholar in Production Engineering and System Technology in NIE, Mysore, India
  2. Associate Professor, Department of Industrial and Production Engineering, NIE, Mysore, India
  3. Deputy manger, Manufacturing Engineering Department, Steering gear Manufacturing Company, Mysore, India
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Abstract

The industrial success greatly depends on the quality and delivery time. In order to achieve this industry should implement new techniques which will increase the quality, productivity and decrease worker fatigue. One such technique is ergonomics. This paper addresses the application of ergonomics in improving the quality of work life, reducing musculoskeletal disorders and increasing productivity. The existing workstation was studied and suggestion was given to improve the method for productivity by reducing shoulder and wrist injury and fatigue. A good ergonomic work station design showed a better interaction between man–machine systems. The new approach of studying the operations by Ergonomics assessment Work sheet includes Rula assessment, Work-place assessment and Composite Scoring system, by considering these factors, problems regarding the MSDs is reduced. It is observed that the newly designed workstation improved working posture and resulted in reduced postural stress on operator’s bodies and consequently reduced prevalence of MSDs symptoms

Keywords

Ergonomics Evaluation, Musculoskeletal Disorders, RULA assessment, Work place assessment

INTRODUCTION

The word Ergonomics comes from two Greek words: ERGO: meaning work, NOMOS: meaning law, Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job. Adapting tasks, work stations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Ergonomics covers all aspects of a job, from the physical stresses it places on joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, bones and the like, to environmental factors which can affect hearing, vision, and general comfort and health, when there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the worker, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) can result. Physical stresses include repetitive motions such as those caused by typing or continual use of a manual screwdriver. Other physical stresses could be tasks involving vibration such as using a jackhammer, or tasks which involve using excessive force, such as lifting boxes of heavy books. Types of work which pose ergonomic hazards are Manual handling, Manufacturing and production, Heavy lifting,
Twisting movements, and Long hours of working in awkwardpositions. Baba MdDeros et al.,[1] studied that assembly workstation at Company a need to be redesign to eliminate awkward postures and anthropometric mismatches to lower MSDs problem and improve productivity among assembly workers.
Ravikumar Kamble et al.,[2] studied the cycle time and existing method of different work stations and suggesting improved method for the same so as to reduce the cycle time and to improve productivity. The importance of the work study is directly related to the reduction of the inefficient time and increasing the productivity. He also Suggested a proper sequence of operations which reduces the cycle time of the work stations.
Sandip B. Wanave et al., evaluated the work station to improve the productivity by reducing the back pain, shoulder injury, fatigue etc. Productivity is an important indicator of economic growth and social health. High performance and productivity require the right sitting posture.So for considering this factor operator needs proper seating arrangement such that their problems regarding the MSDs. Itis revealed that the suggested workstation improved workingposture and results in reduced postural stress on operators’ bodies and consequently reduced prevalence of MSDs symptoms. Analysis and implementation of ergonomic chair give a great difference in the readings taken for differentfactors. Capability and concentration of workers increases dueto less fatigue observed [3]

ERGONOMIC DESIGN

`Ergonomic design’ is a way of considering design options to ensure that people's capabilities and limitations are taken into account. This helps to ensure that the product is fit for use by the target users. The principles of ergonomic design can be applied to everyday objects and work spaces. Mass production of products does not take into account that humans come in various shapes and sizes.

Ergonomic Assessment

A detailed workplace ergonomics assessment used risk analysis tools like:
• RULA - Rapid Upper Limb assessment
• Workplace assessment
• REBA - Rapid Entire Body assessment
• MAC - Manual Handling Assessment Charts
• ART - Assessment of Repetitive upper limb Tasks

Systematic Approach for Ergonomics Assessment

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Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)

Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) RULA was developed to evaluate the exposure of individual workers to ergonomic risk factors associated with upper extremity MSD. The RULA ergonomic assessment tool considers biomechanical and postural load requirements of job tasks demands on the neck, trunk and upper extremities. A single page worksheet is used to evaluate required body posture, force, and repetition. Based on the evaluations, scores are entered for each body region in section A for the arm and wrist, and section B for the neck and trunk.

Ergonomic Workplace Assessment:-

Poor working postures, repetitive tasks and heavy workloads can lead to increased risk of workplace injuries. An Ergonomic assessment can identify these risk factors by using a variety of data capture and risk assessment tools. By performing an Ergonomic assessment, business can benefit from: Prevent costly litigation, comply with health and safety citations, decrease injury risk, error rates and lost working days, increase efficiency and productivityIt covers the major areas like Controls and displays, lightings, material Handling, surrounding Environment.

COMPOSITE SCORING SYSTEM

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• Alert zone is one where the working conditions are unfavorable to the operator with stress and strain.
• Acceptable zone is one where the working conditions are favorable but still scope for betterment of working condition.
• Comfortable zone is one where the operator produces to the minimum quantity without stress and strain on operator’s physical and mental health.

CASE STUDY

Ergonomics improvement –During the initially conduction of the study of ergonomics at Idler and Relay assembly workstation of an steering gear company, the critical areas having the maximum ergonomic score which means having a unfavorable working postures which comes under alert zone which needs immediate attention, are suggested them to reduce the ergonomic score by implementing the Pneumatic torque wrenches with Spring balancer concept which lowers the ergonomics score from alert zone to acceptable zone/ Comfortable zone.
Assembly station: In the Assembly work-station operations of the Idler and Relay is carried out like Pre-assembly, Greasing, Final-assembly, Drop-arm Torque, Pre-delivery inspection and Pre-delivery continuity fixture after these operation it send it to the NALT Assembly station and to the customer.
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Analysis of the alert zone area

In the Assembly Workstation of the Idler and Relay component Drop-arm Torquing operation is Carrying out manually through the Click type torque wrenches and these leads to more lead time of the operation and causes fatigue to the operator in the wrist, upper-arm and lower-arm position and also it leads to the decrease in productivity.
Problem identified: More lead time of the operation, working in Awkward positions, decrease in productivity and Drop-arm torque operation in the alert zone
Scope of the project: Reduce cycle time of the operations; improve productivity, operator safety, ergonomic postures and environment of the workstations and improve alert zone to comfort zone.

List of ideas / Measures:

List of ideas to improve drop-arm torque operation

Click Torque Wrenches:

One of the most common types of torque wrench is the “click”style. It’s so named for the audible “click” that is generated when the wrench reaches its set torque value. When the desired torque is reached, a clutch releases inside of the wrench, creating a clicking sound and allowing the wrench to briefly swing free. This positive tactile and audible feedback assures the user that the proper torque value has been reached.

Digital torque wrenches:

are quickly gaining popularity in many shops and garages. Though slightly more expensive than click type wrenches,their ease of use and high accuracy have made them a popular choice. As opposed to an internal clutch, these wrenches use a strain gauge to measure tension. When the correct torque is reached, an electronic signal is sent to the control, which can provide several methods of alerting the user.

Hydraulic torque wrench:

is a tool designed to exert torque on a fastener to achieve proper tightening or loosening of a connection through the use of hydraulics. A torque wrench is applied to the nut either directly or in conjunction with an impact socket. Hydraulic torque wrenches apply a predetermined, controlled amount of torque to a properly lubricated fastener.
Pneumatic torque wrench: is a planetary torque multiplier or a gearbox that is mated to a pneumatic air motor. At the end of the gearbox is a reaction device that is used to absorb the torque and allows the tool operator to use it with very little effort. The torque output is adjusted by controlling the air pressure. These planetary torque multiplier gearboxes have multiplication ratios up to 4000:1 and are primarily used anywhere accurate torque is required on a nut and bolt, or where a stubborn nut needs to be removed.
Pneumatic torque wrenches is selected for drop-arm torque operation to improve the ergonomic working posture and productivity.

Torque and Air-Pressure Calculation:-

Pressure described as a Force which is exerted over a surface area, in regards to Compression springs, the pressure exerted as the result of Specific deflection can be more described as “Force over a Flat Surface with Circular Perimeter
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Concept of Spring Balancers: are specially designed to free the operator from the weight of hand tools. The tool balancers can be pulled down with least pressure, without any strain or fatigue. Handling of the tool balancers is very easy as the load balancers and pressure required for operation is counter balanced in the mechanism of Spring Balancers / Tool Balancers itself. The operation is free of gravitational force.
• Easy spring adjustment
• Cable travel ranging from 5 to 9 ft
• Safety locking device in case of spring breakage on medium, intermediate, heavy, and super duty models.
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CONCLUSIONS

Ergonomic study carried out at Idler and Relay workstation of the Assembly cell, the changes made were based on the interview with the operators and observations. After the study, best possible suggestion was Pneumatic torque wrenches with spring balancer has proven to be remarkable with the drastic changes in its working postures and also in production. The idea of Pneumatic torque wrenches with spring balancer has been successfully implemented. After the implementation the ergonomic posture is improved with reduced Musculoskeletal Disorders and fatigue, the processing time reduced from 100 secs to 65 secs where the difference of 35 secs is converted as the productive time. The method has proved to be economical and effective. Without high investment by the company the problem has been solved.

References

[1]. Baba Md Deros; Nor Kamaliana Khamis, Ahmad Rasdan Ismail, Haris Jamaluddin, Azmi Mat Adam, Sarudin Rosli “An Ergonomics Study on Assembly Line Workstation Design” American Journal of Applied Sciences 8 (11): ISSN 1546- 9239, 1195-1201, 2011

[2]. Ravikumar Kamble, Vinayak Kulkarni “ Productivity improvement at assembly station using work study techniques” International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology (IJRET) eISSN: 2319-1163 | pISSN: 2321 - 7308 Volume: 03 Issue: 09 Sep-2014

[3]. Sandip B.Wanave, Manish K.Bhadke “an ergonomicevaluation & assessment of the workstation to improve the productivity for an enterprise” International Journal of Engineering Research and Applications (IJERA) ISSN: 2248- 9622, Vol. 3, Issue 6, Nov-Dec 2013