Objectives and background

This Internet portal contains examples of the design of machines or their components that satisfy ergonomic criteria very effectively in accordance with

  • the 2006/42/EC Machinery Directive and
  • EN 13681, Safety of machinery – Guidance for the application of ergonomics standards in the design of machinery,

and that represent innovative ways of reducing hazards arising from inadequate observance of ergonomic criteria.

Creation of the portal was prompted in particular by the following:

  1. The DIN Ergonomics standards committee aims to make standards containing provisions relating to the "ergonomics of machinery" more user-friendly. Clearly comprehensible real-case examples of ergonomically designed work equipment are intended to make the process of standardization more practicable in the areas described below.
    • A catalogue of design examples concerning a range of machines is intended to assist experts in machinery standardization, particularly those in the field developing "Type C" standards for specific machines, by facilitating access to the content of ergonomics standards and improving their understanding of it. A guide of this kind can also assist designers in implementing the provisions of the standards more easily in their machine designs.
    • A guide supporting the application of ergonomic standards during the design of machinery already exists, in the form of EN 13861. In the annex to the guide, 20 different hazards are cross-referenced to the Type B standards that are to be applied to them. It would be advantageous – not least to facilitate the application of EN 13861 – for these safety aspects to be linked to good-practice examples that support the understanding of the Type B standards stated.
  2. The European Commission's Guide to application of the 2006/42/EC Machinery Directive explains the requirements of the directive, including those in Annex I, Section 1.1.6, "Ergonomics". These explanations are supported by sheets on the five ergonomic factors of operators' variability, space of movements, work rate, concentration and man-machinery-interface. Here too, examples of good practice could assist comprehension, for example by the statement of possible design principles. 

In order to constrain the scope of the survey, only machines from the areas of machine tools and machinery for in-plant transport have been considered in the context of a KAN Study to date. The Internet portal permits both straightforward access to the examples surveyed, and the addition of further examples in the future.

Assessment criteria applied

Searches were first performed in the generic ergonomics standards for suitable definitions characterizing ergonomic design. EN 13861 in particular defines relevant hazards that must be considered during the design of safe machines.

Since the focus of the study lay upon ergonomic aspects, safety aspects in the narrow sense were excluded in the first instance. The study primarily concerned hazards leading to long-term harm in the event of sustained exposure, rather than hazards leading directly to injuries or accidents. Consideration was however always given to the general safety aspects during the evaluation of machines or detail solutions. Solutions were therefore rejected that resolved ergonomic problems but led at the same time to an elevated risk of injury or accident.

Based upon the list in EN 13861 of hazards to be considered, the following list was first produced:

  • Hazards caused by neglecting of ergonomic principles (unhealthy body postures or particular exertion, insufficient consideration of the hand/arm or leg/foot anatomy, unsuitable local illumination, mental overload or underload, inadequate visibility from the working position, unsuitable seating, unsuitable location of controls, unsuitable design of the form of operation and/or function of the controls)
  • Thermal hazards (hot or cold working environments)
  • Hazards caused by noise (loss of hearing, physiological disorders, disruption of verbal communication, noise)
  • Hazards caused by vibration (hand-arm vibration, whole-body vibration)
  • Hazards caused by radiation

Annex I of Directive 2006/42/EC contains essential health and safety requirements relating to the design and construction of machinery, including ergonomic requirements. These requirements are defined as follows:

  • Allowance for the variability of the operator's physical dimensions, strength and stamina
  • Provision of enough space for movements of the parts of the operator's body
  • Avoidance of a machine-determined work rate
  • Avoidance of monitoring that requires lengthy concentration
  • Adaptation of the man/machinery interface to the foreseeable characteristics of the operators

From these two main sources, evaluation criteria for the design of machinery were identified, and were discussed and reviewed with experts at the IAD and in KAN's in-project support group. The following criteria were formulated:

Anthropometric criteria

  • Constrained postures
  • Facility for adaptation
  • Freedom of movement
  • Vision geometry

Physiological criteria

  • Exertion of forces
  • Handling of loads

Environmental criteria

  • Physical environment (noise, vibration, climate)
  • Chemical (solids, liquids, gases)
  • Social (contact with other persons, communication)

Information-related criteria

  • Design of displays
  • Design of controls
  • Software ergonomics

Influence upon the workflow

  • Support of workflows by the design
  • Information on the proper use of machinery

Search resources and procedure

A preliminary study determined how examples of good practice for the ergonomic design of machines could best be surveyed. It was found that in consideration of the typical publications and other information on the market, searching by machine type and technical solution is more effective than gearing the search to ergonomic issues.

For the purposes of this Internet portal, a search of manufacturers and suppliers was therefore conducted and a market analysis performed for machine tools and machinery used for in-plant transport. The focus of the first phase lay upon web searches and evaluation of advertising by market leaders. In the second phase, searches were conducted for niche providers that concentrate on one or more particular ergonomic aspects. These searches were conducted partly on the Internet, partly in publications of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions.

Once relevant manufacturers had been identified, their product ranges were analysed. Examples of machinery of interest were documented. Where ergonomic enhancements were immediately apparent or were described comprehensively by the manufacturer, the examples were documented directly. Where enhancements or solutions were not immediately apparent, the examples were noted in order for the machines to be studied in more detail at a later stage.

In the course of the survey, the following trade fairs were attended for more precise study of the machines:

  • LogiMat 2013, Stuttgart: LogiMat is one of the leading international trade fairs for logistics and material transport. It is held annually in Stuttgart, and lists over 1,000 manufacturers from all areas of logistics.
  • Hannover Messe 2013, Hanover: The Hannover Messe is Germany's leading industrial trade fair. Besides showcasing innovations from all areas of industry, the fair also presents new products and companies. This trade fair was selected owing to the many leading machine tool manufacturers in Germany, despite it not being a specialized trade fair.
  • EMO 2013, Stuttgart: EMO is the world's leading trade fair for metal machining. All major manufacturers of machine tools and manufacturing machinery on the world market exhibit there.

Besides the market surveys aimed at identifying manufacturers, user surveys were also conducted. Industrial partners of IAD, the project contractor, were first contacted and asked to provide information on potential examples of good practice that they had encountered. They were also consulted regarding familiar ergonomics issues associated with use of the machines in the categories stated. Based upon this information, solutions were to be sought for these particular problematic areas.

In addition to the users at industrial companies, further machinery experts were consulted. In the first instance, these were experts from industry associations such as the VDMA and accident insurance institutions such as the BGHM, which are familiar with the risks and problems associated with the machines. Researchers at the Institute of Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) at TU Darmstadt were also consulted. The focus of the consultation in this case was current developments on the market for machine tools.

Structuring

The portal has two main menus:

The first of these is divided into forms of stress (physical, mental and environmental). It makes reference to solutions for detailed aspects on machines.

  • Developers who have encountered a particular problem during design can look here for good solutions.
  • Efforts have been made to follow the list of hazards in EN 13861 as closely as possible in the classification and to use formulations that are also comprehensible to designers with little knowledge in the area of ergonomics.
  • Overviews can be called up for the individual sub-categories showing all solutions for detailed aspects in the problem area concerned.
  • Solutions for detailed aspects for the same stress categories are listed on the right-hand side, enabling the user to find further information.

The second heading, "Machinery", comprises the main categories of "Machine tools" and "In-plant transport equipment", and the corresponding sub-categories. Machine developers and purchasing officers can search here directly according to machine type.

  • The Machinery summary page lists the machine classes together with a description of the machine types. The summary page for a machine category (e.g. machine tools) lists the machine types (e.g. milling machines, lathes, machining centres, etc.), together with up to two selected examples of each type.
  • Examples can be selected directly; alternatively, clicking on the machine type calls up a complete list of examples of a type. To provide a quick overview, a representative photograph and an excerpt from the description of the machine are provided on all summary pages of the machines.
  • Each detailed solution identified for a machine has a name, a description of the underlying ergonomic problem, the relevant stress category or categories to which it is assigned, a description of the design solution, and an abstraction of the solution to the underlying function principle. The last of these is intended to assist the designer in finding innovative solutions for these and other machine types or problems and in transferring them to his or her application.
  • "Further information" provides a link to the ErgoNoRA standards search tool and a list of terms for searches for the relevant standards.
  • In order to simplify intuitive searching for solutions, a field is provided in the sidebar in which further entries are listed for the same machine type. The designer can thus view and compare the solutions for other machines.

"Advanced search" not only enables search terms to be entered freely, as in the basic search field, but also enables this search to be refined. In the list of pages, a "Quick finder" function provides direct access to certain machine types or forms of stress.