Digital ergonomics: ergonomics definition

Reduction of the physical strain in the manual work process

Ergonomics is becoming one of the most important factors when analyzing manual work processes. In general, ergonomics is understood to be the use of psychological and physiological principles in the development and construction of products, processes and systems. The central aspect of ergonomics is the reduction of errors and the increase in performance as well as the increase in safety and comfort, with a view to the interaction between people and objects. It is very important to keep experienced employees in their processes for as long as possible. In order to guarantee this, it is essential to ban excessive loads and critical movement sequences from work processes. For example, a digital analysis of ergonomics can reveal critical movement sequences and, on the basis of the knowledge gained, make small changes to the workflow that make a big difference to the stressful situation of the employee.


Ergonomics is a combination of various disciplines such as psychology, engineering, physiology, visual design, industrial design, user experience, etc. Basically, it is about researching the conception of equipment, devices and processes that affect the human body and match his cognitive abilities.

Digital ergonomics: The relevance of ergonomics

Application areas and interfaces of ergonomics

Besides the construction of safe objects, ergonomics is relevant for user-friendly interfaces to machines and devices. Digital ergonomics analyses with Motion-Mining® uncover stress risks which, if repeated, can cause musculoskeletal disorders or similar injuries. If an employee is exposed to these excessive or incorrect strains over a longer period of time, it can lead to permanent injuries. Ergonomics therefore deals with the "fit" between user, device and environment or the correct "adaptation of a workplace to a person". The abilities and limits of the user are taken into account.

The Motion-Mining® technology supports companies by digital ergonomics analyses to evaluate the compatibility of human and technology. For a digital ergonomics analysis, among other things, the activities carried out and the requirements of the user, the equipment used and the knowledge used are taken into consideration.


Digital Ergonomics: Specialization

Physical, cognitive and organizational ergonomics

In ergonomics the three areas physical, cognitive and organizational ergonomics can be distinguished.

Within these broad categories, there is a wide variety of emphases. The specializations in physical ergonomics also include visual ergonomics. In the area of cognitive ergonomics there are specializations in the fields of user-friendliness, human-computer interaction and user experience engineering.

Certain specializations, such as environmental ergonomics, may also extend beyond these fields.  Here, we study the interaction of humans with the environment, which is characterized by climate, temperature, pressure, vibration and light. The evolving field of human factors in road safety uses principles of the human factor to describe the actions and skills of road users - car and truck drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. - etc. - and to use this knowledge to design roads and paths in such a way as to minimize collisions in public road traffic

Digital ergonomics: The field of physical ergonomics

Observation of the human anatomy

Physical ergonomics deals with aspects of human anatomy as well as some of the anthropometric, physiological and bio-mechanical properties related to the activity of the body. Physical-ergonomic principles are widely used in the design of consumer and industrial products. The aim is to optimize performance and avoid work-related disorders. Triggers of chronic injuries of the musculoskeletal system must be detected and reduced.

The initial diagnosis of occupational diseases such as musculoskeletal disorders, is often difficult, although this type of disorder is one of the most common types of work-related injuries. Musculoskeletal disorders often result in chronic pain, loss of function and disability. A higher rate of employee complaints as a result of incorrect workload is triggered, for example, by repetitive and stressful activities, repeated overloading, frequent, heavy or overhead lifting, or unfavorable work positions. This can result in localized fatigue, discomfort or pain that does not subside after resting during the night.

Digital Ergonomics Analyses provide added value not only for employees. Employees in ergonomically correct work processes are less absent and cause less health-related costs. In addition, employee productivity can be increased and employee turnover reduced


Digital Ergonomics: Digital Ergonomics

Possibilities for digital ergonomics

Digital ergonomics is used to represent digital models and methods for planning, realization and continuous improvement of products and socio-technical work systems. Personal characteristics of employees are recorded in order to optimize work systems ergonomically. For this reason, the term personal digital ergonomics is used here. Digital human models are among the most important ergonomic instruments for digital ergonomics. They depict real people virtually.

Digital ergonomics: The field of cognitive ergonomics

Observation of the human anatomy

The focus of cognitive ergonomics is on mental processes such as perception, memory, logical thinking and motor response, since they influence the interactions between humans and other elements of a system. A correlation between the time spent sitting and their cognitive function, such as decreased mood and depression, has been demonstrated in epidemiological studies.


Digital Ergonomics: Optimization proposals within the scope of a Motion-Mining® ergonomics analysis

Employees already benefit from small optimization measures

Even small optimization measures can help to improve the stress situation of employees. Through a digital ergonomics analysis with Motion-Mining®, measures are derived on the basis of the collected data. Up to now, a digital ergonomics analysis can distinguish between 50 movements, including critical movements such as bending over from the back, carrying, lifting, holding, and overhead activities, which can be considered especially in terms of ergonomics. This results in a direct benefit on the employee side. For a digital ergonomics analysis, in addition to productivity key figures, key figures are also recorded which, similar to the Leitmerkmalmethode, allow conclusions to be drawn about the strain on employees. In addition to critical movements, these include, for example, the number of handling operations and distances travelled. In the future, sensors for light, temperature and sound could also be used for digital ergonomics analysis to record working conditions even more precisely.

Measures for a digital ergonomics analysis are, for example, the correct positioning of products in order picking. In this way, employees can be spared by reducing the amount of overhead work. Also an optimal route planning, so that too long routes can be reduced, is a typical measure for a digital ergonomics analysis. When optimizing the routes, the efficiency analysis is increased at the same time. Efficiency and digital ergonomics analyses are often performed simultaneously

Zwei Mitarbeiter der MotionMiners GmbH bei der Prozessoptimierung in einer Lagerhalle im Logistikbereich. Mit der Motion-Mining-Technologie führen sie eine automatisierte und optimierte Datenerfassung durch. Two employees of MotionMiners GmbH during an optimizing process in a warehouse in the logistics sector. They use motion mining technology to perform automated and optimized data acquisition.

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