Ergonomic and production system effectiveness are evaluated in a case of a production system redesign: from parallel flow dock-based, to serial flow line-based assembly. The line-based system displayed much tighter coupling of operators to the technical system and introduced system, balance and downtime losses. We observed reductions in: cycle times to 6% of previous, decision latitude, influence and control over work, perceived work load, and perception of available pauses. Layout and technology changes helped improve co-worker interaction and support, and reduce instances, but not magnitude, of peak spinal loading. It is concluded that serial flows can negatively affect psychosocial conditions and, if losses are high, reduce physical workload. An ‘Action Group’ has been formed in the company to adopt an evidence-based approach to the development of systems that are sustainable from both productivity and ergonomics perspectives.
Neumann, W.P., Winkel, J., Magneberg, R., Mathiassen, S.E., Forsman, M., Chaikumarn, M., Palmerud, G., Medbo, P., Medbo, L. (2003) Ergonomics and productivity consequences in adopting a line-based production system. In: Proceedings of the XVth triennial congress of the International Ergonomics Association, Seoul, Korea