Optimization of Productivity and Worker Well-Being by Using a Multi-Objective Optimization Framework

Aitor Iriondo, Dan Högberg, Dan Lämkull & Estela Perez Luque (2021). Optimization of Productivity and Worker Well-Being by Using a Multi-Objective Optimization Framework. Published in: IISE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors.

Worker well-being and overall system performance are important elements in the design of production lines. However, studies of industry practice show that current design tools are unable to consider concurrently both productivity aspects (e.g., line balancing and cycle time) and worker well-being related aspects (e.g., the risk of musculoskeletal disorders). Current practice also fails to account for anthropometric diversity in the workforce and does not use the potential of multi-objective simulation-based optimization techniques. Accordingly, a framework consisting of a workflow and a digital tool was designed to assist in the proactive design of workstations to accommodate worker well-being and productivity. This framework uses state-of-the-art optimization techniques to make it easier and quicker for designers to find successful workplace design solutions. A case study to demonstrate the framework is provided.

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT Rationale: Simulation technologies are used widely in industry as they enable efficient creation, testing, and optimization of the design of products and production systems in virtual worlds. Simulations of productivity and ergonomics help companies to find optimized solutions that maintain profitability, output, quality, and worker well-being. However, these two types of simulations are typically carried out using separate tools, by persons with different roles, with different objectives. Silo effects can result, leading to slow development processes and suboptimal solutions. Purpose: This research is related to the realization of a framework that enables the concurrent optimization of worker well-being and productivity. The framework demonstrates how digital human modeling can contribute to Ergonomics 4.0 and support a human factors centered approach in Industry 4.0. The framework also facilitates consideration of anthropometric diversity in the user group. Methods: Design and creation methodology was used to create a framework that was applied to a case study, formulated together with industry partners, to demonstrate the functionality of the noted framework. Results: The framework workflow has three parts: (1) Problem definition and creation of the optimization model; (2) Optimization process; and (3) Presentation and selection of results. The case study shows how the framework was used to find a workstation design optimized for both productivity and worker well-being for a diverse group of workers. Conclusions: The framework presented allows for multi-objective optimizations of both worker well-being and productivity and was successfully applied in a welding gun use case. Access publication.