“I enjoyed diving into the challenging research topic of balancing including ergonomics.”

Earlier this year VF-KDO met with master student Janneke Vollebregt. She told us about her thesis project and her mission to create the optimal assembly line. How to achieve maximum productivity and minimal work-related injuries. Just last month she presented her thesis project and graduated. We were able to catch up with her to find out how the test in the pedal-car assembly go and of her plans for the future.

Congratulations! How do you feel?

- I’m very happy to have my degree in the pocket and very grateful to be awarded such a good grade for my research. I had a great time at Scania in Sweden and really enjoyed diving into the challenging research topic of balancing including ergonomics, says Janneke Vollebregt.

Tell us - how did the test in the pedal car assembly go?

- We tested two ways: manual by using participants and automated by using an exact and metaheuristic method. It was so much fun to include a dozen process engineers who have experience with assembly line balancing in the manual experiments. They provided very interesting results and performed quite well. Thankfully, we could prove a statistically significant (α=0.05) decrease of ergonomic risks when the ergonomic data was provided to the process engineers, says Janneke Vollebregt.

How about time efficiency vs ergonomics?

- As expected with the conflicting objectives of time efficiency and ergonomics, the cycle time did deteriorate significantly when including ergonomics. In the long run, however, we expect the lower ergonomic risks to have many benefits that might outweigh the lower time efficiency of the assembly line. The automated approached of an exact and metaheuristic method performed better than the manual approach, as expected. However, many complexities that occur in real life truck assembly are not included in the simple pedal car test case. To include these realistic constraints in the automated approach’s models and algorithms would require much more research and yield very high processing times. The AviX software used in the manual approach is already to fitted for the truck assembly, and only ergonomic data gathering, and processing would need to be done to allow the manual approach to be implemented. All in all, very promising results! Says Janneke Vollebregt.

What will happen with all the fantastic work you’ve been doing?

-The research projects that were involved and helped me very much, VF-KDO and MOSIM, intend to continue upon the research I have done, using both the connection between IPS IMMA & AviX and the models and algorithms we developed in future publications. Ergonomics is a very important topic for Scania as they have ‘respect for the individual’ as one of their core values. Scania has been very enthusiastic about the results so I am sure they will also use some of my research in future, says Janneke Vollebregt.

What are your plans for the future?

-In May I will begin working at Scania Meppel, in the Netherlands as a process engineer. It’s a job that I am looking forward to very much, both to continue diving into process optimization and to join the great work environment that Scania provides, concludes Janneke Vollebregt.

We wish Janneke Vollebregt now MSc in Industrial Engineering & Management,

the best of luck with her future endeavors.