In this day and age of ever more automated and high-tech manufacturing, we might wonder; do we need human labors in factories? I recently came across this PBS documentary that raises this question appropriately: Will Human Workers Become Obsolete. I say, “No.” Not at least in our near lifetime. Humans have one remarkable talent that no machine could match so far. We are fast learners, and that makes us extremely adaptive to new tasks and job requirements. Therefore, my statement above that machines will not replace human workers comes with this condition; workers of the future have to be highly productive, flexible and problem solvers. Or we may say that only those factory jobs that require a high level of problem solving and cooperation will be done by humans. Everything else will be outsourced to machines.
One way to make workers more productive and help them learn tasks quickly is by having the ability to plan work sequences in advance, and ensuring that worker’s performance are optimized for time and safety.
Leading manufacturers use motion capture systems to profile the task sequence and movements of workers accurately. Afterwards, the data from motion capture hardware are integrated into human simulation software such as Jack for doing ergonomic and human performance analysis. Traditionally, one of the key limitations of motion capture hardware is that it couldn’t be used in actual factory floors because of magnetic interference and obvious logistic challenges. Manufacturers built separate motion capture labs that have prototype representations of factory lines and cells. This process is not only expensive, but it is almost impossible to make the lab environment an exact replica of the factory floor.
Animazoo, a partner of Siemens PLM Software, built IGS 180i motion capture system that can capture actual workers on the production floor, and perform motion tracking in production areas that were previously difficult to reach. You can learn more about Animazoo and its IGS 180i tool and how it interacts with Tecnomatix Jack by visiting their website.