Making Work Better for Workers: Ergonomics in Action at Magna International

Industry Week
July 17, 2023
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In the war for talent and retention, the ergonomics of workstations play a role. This article explores Magna International's operations in Bowling Green, Kentucky and how "Human Factors Engineering" optimizes performance while providing workers a comfortable and safe environment.

Despite the sometimes-breathless promises of artificial intelligence, manufacturing relies and will continue to rely on human laborers, who are—for now—still often more capable and less expensive than robots. But that doesn’t mean manufacturers should ignore the impact new technology can have on talent. According to two engineers at Magna International, the science of ergonomics combined with advanced technology can come together to make work more comfortable and less dangerous for human workers.

Areta Lok, lead ergonomics engineer for Magna Body and Chassis, says ergonomics is essentially the study of human interactions with objects and environments—in Magna’s terms, objects like tools, and environments like part-picking stations. To ground this, Magna internally refers to ergonomics engineering as HFE or Human Factors Engineering.

“Ergonomics is really the science of figuring out how to design the environment to optimize the human’s performance,” says Lok.

Her colleague, Stephanie Bailey, health and safety area leader at Magna’s Bowling Green Metalforming plant in Kentucky, concurs. Unlike machines, human beings come in a bewildering configuration of sizes, shapes and mobilities.

An engineer by trade, Bailey points out that this variety makes designing standard workplaces for humans difficult: “Where do you find a happy medium? … Do you have to make a workstation that can adjust to each person that comes in there?”

Read more here.

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