A case study evaluating the ergonomic and productivity impacts of partial automation strategies in the electronics industry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A case study is presented that evaluates the impact of partial automation strategies on productivity and ergonomics. A company partly automated its assembly and transportation functions while moving from a parallel-batch to a serial line-based production system. Data obtained from company records and key informants were combined with detailed video analysis, biomechanical modelling data and field observations of the system. The new line system was observed to have 51% higher production volumes with 21% less per product labour input and lower work-in-process levels than the old batch-cart system. Partial automation of assembly operations was seen to reduce the total repetitive assembly work at the system level by 34%. Automation of transportation reduced transport labour by 63%. The strategic decision to implement line-transportation was found to increase movement repetitiveness for operators at manual assembly stations, even though workstations were constructed with consideration to ergonomics. Average shoulder elevation at these stations increased 30% and average shoulder moment increased 14%. It is concluded that strategic decisions made by designers and managers early in the production system design phase have considerable impact on ergonomic conditions in the resulting system. Automation of transport and assembly both lead to increased productivity, but only elements related to the automatic line system also increased mechanical loads on operators and hence increased the risk for work-related disorders. Suggestions for integrating the consideration of ergonomics into production system design are made.


  • Patrick Neumann
  • S Kihlberg
  • P Medbo
  • Svend Erik Mathiassen
  • J Winkel
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4059-4075
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch

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Related research output

Patrick Neumann, 2004, Department of Design Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Lund University. 159 p.

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