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Human-centred automation to simplify the path to social and economic sustainability

Nguyen, The Duy; Krüger, Jörg

FG Industrielle Informationstechnik

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) pose a serious threat to sustainability in manufacturing. In particular, this phenomenon impacts the sustainability indicators of worker health and safety and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Effective MSD prevention measures would therefore constitute a remarkable contribution to social and economic sustainability. This chapter provides first an outline of existing methods to prevent MSD at the workplace. Analysis of the approaches yields that effective solutions require earmarked finances as well as qualified personnel, both of which are not affordable for many companies. In pursuit of solutions, Human-centred Automation (HCA), a recent paradigm in manufacturing, proposes the design of manufacturing systems using intelligent technology to support the worker instead of replacing him/her. HCA has the unique potential of reducing the effort needed to implement MSD prevention strategies by simplifying the path to social and economic sustainability. This chapter demonstrates this process with the example of the “Working Posture Controller” (WPC), which illustrates how the HCA concept can be applied. Finally, the lessons learned from the case are outlined, providing a vision of how future workplaces can benefit from HCA.