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Smart clothing reveals the workload in various tasks

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

GE Healthcare, producer of patient monitoring and other medical technologies, develops ergonomics in assembly work with the help of smart clothing.

In assembly work, pieces are screwed together in a sitting or standing position. Stress is caused by holding up one’s arms, reaching for things and repetitive movements. The work has an impact on the shoulders and neck.

GE Healthcare facilitates the work in many ways. The working height can be adjusted, and it’s possible to select the most suitable work chair. Robots and automatic lifts have been acquired for the most difficult work phases. An occupational physiotherapist instructs the employees to find the correct working positions. Production’s internal ergonomics team gets together once a month to go through the employees’ feedback and to assess what could be developed.

One way to reduce one-sided movements is job rotation. However, it’s even more important to plan the production line or workstation in a way that avoids the heavily stressful work positions altogether. Lean thinking and ErgoAnalysis™ are utilized in this work.

Myontec’s ErgoAnalysis™ tool is based on textiles equipped with sensors that measure muscle activity and load. The results are also analyzed with the help of a video recording and a smart watch that measures the heartbeat.

The measurements can be used to compare the workload of the various work phases and positions as well as to monitor muscle fatigue and recovery. The measurements can reveal stand-alone, difficult movements in which the employee must, for example, squeeze something, twist or bend over.

The measurement and analysis have only been used to plan the production lines so far, but the purpose is to also utilize them on the equipping and packing stations and in their product development.

The article was originally published in

TTT magazine 23.11.2020 (in Finnish)

The article is part of the Lighten the Load initiative, in which the TTT magazine participates as a media partner.

To read the whole article, note that you need to log in. After that the document is available on our Ergonomics Resources page.

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