LEAN Ergonomics Six Sigma (LESS)

LEAN Ergonomics Six SigmaLEAN Ergonomics Six Sigma (LESS) methodology approach to human work capability factors in the workplace has been part of the LEAN quality evolution since its beginnings. But recently has received more visibility from employers, insurers, and governmental organizations due to the high rate of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses and the health care cost associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

“OSHA estimates that 1.505 million recordable MSDs are expected to occur annually among 1.542 million affected establishments.”

Ergonomics is often referred to as a discipline containing human factors affecting or influencing manufacturing production. Ergonomics mainly focuses on the human body, its capacity and its limits. Thus, ergonomics is often considered a full-scale scientific discipline that tries to touch and understand interactions between humans and other significant elements of a system, usually the working environment.

Thus, ergonomics as a profession aims to optimize well-being and total system performance of human beings working in an environment. To achieve that, ergonomics applies certain methods, data, principles and theories that not just repetitive production manufacturing but many workplace environments.

Ergonomics involve the design, assessment and evaluation of activities, tasks, work loads or jobs, products, working environments and work systems.

logo - lean six sigmaLEAN Ergonomics Six Sigma (LESS)

LEAN manufacturing is a methodology principle or approach that principally targets the improvement in the competitiveness and profitability of a business. The main view of LEAN Six Sigma is to eliminate or reduce unnecessary and wasteful behaviors and practices in work practices.

Thus, it would be safe and to say that LEAN Six Sigma and ergonomics are interrelated. The two work disciplines and principles of both can greatly and undoubtedly complement each other.

We could assert that Ergonomics and LEAN Six Sigma could work hand in hand to make achieve their respective goals.

For its part, LEAN Six Sigma involves a methodology approach or strategy that attempt to maximize productivity in the workplace by reducing, if not totally eliminating, unnecessary and unproductive tasks, activities and working behaviors.

Experts estimate that LEAN manufacturing improvements can bring cost reduction results and save production time by as much as 25% to 40% on average.

Specific areas of LEAN Manufacturing

There are five specific branches of ergonomics that can specifically bring in desired and productive results when integrated LEAN Six Sigma.

The five ergonomics branches are worker selection, man-machine allocation, anthropometrics, biomechanics and physiology. Read on to find out more about these ergonomics branches.

Worker Selection— Ergonomics suggests that to achieve a major streamlining initiative or LEAN Six Sigma efforts, companies should start from the top.

That means that waste elimination and prevention practices and behavioral changes start in the front office, they should hire personnel that are able to contribute to maximizing productivity of the organization.

Reviewing applications, resumes, and curriculum vitae of job applicants is very important, because the working nature of an individual is shared within the contexts of this information. Employer can better learn to review and interpret between the lines.

Man-Machine Allocation—Allocation in ergonomics and LEAN Six Sigma means the division of work between personnel and machines or workplace equipment.

To achieve this ergonomics goal, management should carefully plan and assign the use of specific manufacturing machines by certain personnel. Both the equipment tasks and the workers production knowledge must accommodate each other to increasing productivity.

Anthropometry—Anthropometrics in ergonomics and LEAN Six Sigma focuses on human capacity. This branch concentrates and deals with the weight, dimension and strengths of a worker’s physical body attributes.

By doing so, production will not be interrupted and smooth manufacturing processes can be attained. Workers with lesser capacities can be assigned to handle work that better meets their capabilities and they can surely handle, while the higher capability workers can be assigned others jobs that better match machines that fit their physical capacity.

Biomechanics—Like anthropometry, biomechanics in ergonomics and LEAN Six Sigma deals with the human body, but this time, human movement and its mechanical forces are closely looked at.

In Biology, you know that motions and movements of the human body burn energy. By conserving body energy and allocating them for activities that better benefit production, manufacturing is boosted.

Physiology— Lastly, physiology in ergonomics and LEAN Six Sigma deals with the anatomy of the human body. Designations and assignments of machines are done by first considering the physical structure of the workers’ body.

This time, it is not focused on certain body groups like muscles or energy requirements, but the whole body systems, from the physical, and the mental aspects.

Indeed, ergonomics and LEAN Six Sigma are interrelated disciplines. Companies and firms that aim to maximize productivity should take the initiative to adopt and implement ergonomics and lean manufacturing strategies and processes.

Written by Christopher Sanderson a contributing LEAN Six Sigma Black Belt consultant to iSigma Group.

Remember, “The only constant in life is change.” Allow iSigma Group to partner with your company and help integrate LEAN Ergonomic Six Sigma into your organization.

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