5 Ways Automation Improves Manufacturing Ergonomics

Posted: March 15, 2024

An underappreciated benefit of industrial automation is the benefits it provides for manufacturing ergonomics and making the experience for your employees safer, healthier, more comfortable, and more productive.

Industrial ergonomics can cover everything from workstation design, tool selection, environmental controls, to procedures - all of which can be influenced for the benefit of workers with automation. When teams are comfortable and safe - they do their best work.

When to Consider Automation for Improving Manufacturing Ergonomics

Automation can have an outsized benefit for ergonomics and the employee experience in a variety of situations. It can also improve output - both in quality and quantity. Below are some of the situations where you might consider automating some or all of your processes.

Repetitive Tasks

Repetitive strain injuries are extremely common in traditional manufacturing settings. These injuries are often associated with tasks like assembly, packaging, and sorting where employees perform the same motions for extended periods. Robotic automation is ideal for reassessing the workflow as well as taking over repetitive tasks in production processes, not only making it safer for employees, but allowing  for higher-level work that involves greater variety.

Heavy Lifting and Material Handling

Similar to repetitive injuries, lifting heavy objects can also cause injuries for your employees. Robots are ideally-suited to literally bear this burden and carry heavy items through the production process. This is particularly important for industries like aerospace which can have enormous workpieces that need to be moved and fixtured for machining/tooling.


High-precision Tasks

Even the steadiest hands will eventually become fatigued, affecting fine motor skills and impacting product quality and output. Automation is adept at performing precise tasks that can reduce strain on employees and ensure the highest quality. This sort of automation is common in the life sciences industry, where tiny components must be produced to fit inside medical devices or used inside the human body.


Hazardous Environments

All manufacturing environments involve some element of hazard for employees, but some are especially well-suited to automation. These can include: exposure to hazardous materials or emissions (either as raw materials or as by-products of production),  proximity to high-speed operations (like machining or stamping), or exposure to extreme heat or cold (think sparks, welding or special climate-controlled environments). The most potentially dangerous operations can be handed off to automation, allowing workers to interact with the product when it’s safest to perform production tasks.

Quality Control

Performing consistent and continuous quality checks can pose difficulty for humans. Studies have shown that sustained vigilance in the QA process for some areas of manufacturing (particularly for detailed products like electrical components, or in poorly- or brightly-lit environments) can cause eye strain. Machine vision systems and sensor arrays not only do a better and more consistent job of quality control, they can do it faster and potentially even better (by using a range of technologies ranging from 3d scanners, elemental analyzers,high-speed cameras and more). Additionally, AI based machine learning can be used to continually improve quality metrics during production.

Support Your Team Ergonomically With Automation

Ergonomic improvements are often an overlooked benefit of incorporating automation into manufacturing. As robots and other automation take over work that humans are not suited for, the door is opened for employees to partake in more creative, collaborative, and challenging work. Not only is this type of work more fulfilling, but it will also make for a happier and more productive workplace for your employees. 

An experienced automation partner will be able to help your business identify opportunities to deploy automation that will improve the quality of life for your employees and increase productivity and quality at the same time. Contact JR Automation to find out how your company can improve manufacturing ergonomics to unlock new levels of efficiency, productivity and competitiveness.