Manufacturing industries are facing major challenges due to the continued aging of their workforce, which is caused by an increasing life expectation and de-creasing fertility rates. The demographic development is particularly considered as risk factor for work tasks that are associated with low autonomy and high physical task demands, for example automotive assembly , . In order to keep the work-ability of older employees and avoid work-related musculoskeletal disorders, such as severe low back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, manufacturers need to regard ergonomic principles of workplace design in early phases of production planning , .
Computer-aided simulation tools, such as digital human models (DHM), are considered to be very promising in the facilitation of pre-production planning and proactive ergonomic assessment , .
However, current DHM tools are often very complicated to handle and thus, it is mostly very time-consuming and inefficient to prepare human simulations for specific areas of application. Furthermore, it is important to assure that simulations of cycle times and ergonomic workloads are very precise and reflect reality quite well because analyses results may lead
to substantial investments in workplace (re)design .
Facing these practical requirements this paper will introduce the “Editor for Manual Work Activities” (ema) – a new software tool that reduces the effort for preparing simulations of human work and, at the same time, improves the accuracy of simulations. ema can be applied in various manufacturing environments with clock-cycled assembly lines and manual work stations, particularly in the field of automotive production planning.