Human Centered Smart Factories: design for wellbeing for future manufacturing

Startdatum25 april 2022
Einddatum31 december 2025
RegelingSmart Industry

Manual labour is an important cornerstone in manufacturing and considering human factors and ergonomics is a crucial field of action from both social and economic perspective. Diverse approaches are available in research and practice, ranging from guidelines, ergonomic assessment sheets over to digitally supported workplace design or hardware oriented support technologies like exoskeletons. However, in the end those technologies, methods and tools put the working task in focus and just aim to make manufacturing “less bad” with reducing ergonomic loads as much as possible.
The proposed project “Human Centered Smart Factories: design for wellbeing for future manufacturing” wants to overcome this conventional paradigm and considers a more proactive and future oriented perspective. The underlying vision of the project is a workplace design for wellbeing that makes labor intensive manufacturing not just less bad but aims to provide positive contributions to physiological and mental health of workers. This shall be achieved through a human centered technology approach and utilizing advanced opportunities of smart industry technologies and methods within a cyber physical system setup. Finally, the goal is to develop smart, shape-changing workstations that self-adapt to the unique and personal, physical and cognitive needs of a worker. The workstations are responsive, they interact in real time, and promote dynamic activities and varying physical exertion through understanding the context of work. Consequently, the project follows a clear interdisciplinary approach and brings together disciplines like production engineering, human interaction design, creative design techniques and social impact assessment. Developments take place in an industrial scale test bed at the University of Twente but also within an industrial manufacturing factory.
Through the human centered design of adaptive workplaces, the project contributes to a more inclusive and healthier society. This has also positive effects from both national (e.g. relieve of health system) as well as individual company perspective (e.g. less costs due to worker illness, higher motivation and productivity). Even more, the proposal offers new business opportunities through selling products and/or services related to the developed approach. To tap those potentials, an appropriate utilization of the results is a key concern . The involved manufacturing company van Raam will be the prototypical implementation partner and serve as critical proof of concept partner. Given their openness, connections and broad range of processes they are also an ideal role model for further manufacturing companies. ErgoS and Ergo Design are involved as methodological/technological partners that deal with industrial engineering and ergonomic design of workplace on a daily base. Thus, they are crucial to critically reflect wider applicability and innovativeness of the developed solutions. Both companies also serve as multiplicator while utilizing promising technologies and methods in their work. Universities and universities of applied sciences utilize results through scientific publications and as base for further research. They also ensure the transfer to education as an important leverage to inspire and train future engineers towards wellbeing design of workplaces.


University of Twente