Its time to ergonomis

               People are one of industrys most important resources. In todays industrial operations people perform physical tasks of assembling and handling materials as well as sensory and cognitive tasks such as inspecting components issuing tools entering data and managing people and operations. simply put it takes people to make products and provide services. People are also prospective customers. If manufactured products meet the needs and desires of customers at a reasonable price customers will buy them. In fact the more attractive these products are and the more competitive the price the greater the sales and when sales improve wages increase. In a nutshell that is what this book is about:

1. Improving both the effectiveness of people in industry and the products and services that industry sells. Ergonomics is the study of people at work. This field got its name in the summer of 1949 when a group of interested individuals assembled in oxford england to discuss the topic of human performance. The group consisted of anatomists physiologists psychologists industrial medical officers industrial hygienists design engineers work study engineers architects illuminating engineers and anyone whose work concerned some aspect of human performance.

2. A proposal was put forth at that meeting to coin a new word for this emerging field ergonomics which couples ergos the greek word for work with the word nomos meaning natural laws. the group decided to adopt this term and called themselves the ergonomics research society.

3 One of the advantages of this new term was that it did not imply that any of the contributing disciplines were more important than the others. some time later the term human factors was coined in the u.s. for a society of similar purpose but with less diversity of backgrounds. recently the u.s. society changed its name to the human factors and ergonomics society. as in all societies patterns of interest have reflected the memberships background and opportunities over time at times stressing one element and at other times another. some experts define the objective of ergonomics and human factors engineering as designing machines to fit human operators.

 However it is also necessary to fit operators to machines in the form of personnel selection and Introduction to human factors and ergonomics for engineers:

 1. Each chapter begins with a description of the chapter contents and the educational objectives for writing the chapter.

2. The preface of murrells 1965 book states that the disciplines represented at the forming of this society came from both scientific and application backgrounds and that the human sciences of psychology anatomy and physiology were all represented.

3. In later years the ergonomics research society changed its name to the ergonomics society. the term ergonomics has become known internationally although members of the society had many spirited discussions during the 1970s about changing the name.

Iit is probably more accurate then to describe this field as the study of human-machine systems with an emphasis on the human aspect. this book takes such an approach but limits its scope to:

1. small systems of individual operators or small crews of people.

2. industrial and consumer service settings processes and products.

3. design and operating decisions associated with these systems. confining its emphasis to these three concerns makes this book more specifically focused than most textbooks used in basic courses on human factors engineering or ergonomics.

               For the most part those texts devote considerable attention to background sciences such as psychology and physiology and tend to stress military and nonindustrial applications because much of the research is driven by the military. in contrast this book stresses applications of ergonomic analyses and design of better person-machine systems. a good introduction to the concept of ergonomics presented in this textbook was given several years ago by paul fitts. he described human performance as a function of five factors labeled by the acronym limet which were:

 1. learning

2. individual differences

3. motivation

4. environment

 5. task these five factors identify many important aspects of ergonomics that also involve management and other groups within a firm.

                Learning is the objective of training and individual differences are the underlying justification for developing personnel selection procedures intended to ensure companies hire people who can perform their jobs. Once a company attracts the desired personnel and trains them it must concentrate on motivating them to perform their jobs well. This will permit the company to make the money necessary to meet the bills for operation pay the wages of the personnel and finance new projects for making products and services better using safer processes. Worker motivation is promoted in part by a company environment that is safe effective and conducive to good work. it should also be emphasized that the tasks people perform sometimes need to be revised for more effective operations. 

                        Consequently all of these factors contribute to better ergonomics. but it is simplistic to think of them as independent variables because there are interactions between these factors that are not well understood. for example elements that motivate people in the 95th percentile of performance may not be the same as those that motivate people in the 5th percentile.

           Some other roots of this discipline go to the beginning of the 20th century when frederick taylor led a movement he called scientific management. 4 he started his movement while working in the steel industry in philadelphia where he conducted a series of experiments to design better types of shovels for moving sand into casting molds. his ideas caught on in many places although most companies used them only partially. taylor was also a man who attracted others with his ideas and insight. 

 

 

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