3D cameras evaluate ergonomics of assembly workstations

Crooked postures can cause permanent health problems. (Photo: industrieblick - Fotalia.com)

IPH/IFA | Awkward bending, lifting heavy items, working overhead: Such movements may cause permanent health problems. As a preventive measure, researchers of IPH and IFA developed an ergonomics assessment tool for assembly workplaces: 3D cameras capture unhealthy movements automatically.

To maintain their workers healthy, large companies employ physiotherapists and ergonomists. They analyse movement patterns and give recommendations how to prevent health damage. However, such care is expensive and time-consuming. Within the scope of the research project “WorkCam”, researchers of the Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover (IPH) gGmbH and the Institute of Production Systems and Logistics (IFA) are jointly working on an alternative at low cost.

The task of the 3D camera-based system is to observe assembly workers and analyse their movements automatically. Motion capture suits are not necessary. The workers are filmed in their familiar work environment – neither interrupting the production process nor restricting the workers’ mobility. Moreover, the system provides real-time feedback: For example, a worker who lifts an object without keeping his back straight directly gets the message that the movement is harmful. Now, he can correct his posture.

With ergonomics analysis, companies can preserve the health of their workers, minimise sick leave and eventually save costs. 

by Susann Reichert and Sebastian Brede

Image gallery for this article

  • Crooked postures can cause permanent health problems. (Photo: industrieblick - Fotalia.com)
  • Algorithm analyses movements in real time. (Graphic: Sebastian Brede, IPH)
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