How Human Task Simulation Can Identify AEC Safety Risks

By Prashanth
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Human Task Simulation

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: How Human Task Simulation
Can Identify #AEC Safety Risks

Injury from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)—caused by lifting heavy items, performing tasks repetitively, working in awkward body postures, etc.—plagues many industries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2013, 33 percent of all worker injury and illness cases were the result of MSDs.

But by factoring ergonomic solutions in at the design stage of a new building, many workplaces and facilities can dramatically minimize the potential for design-induced risks to health, personal or process safety or environmental performance.

Companies that make worker safety and wellness a core part of their practices gain more than safer, healthier workers. Research indicates that these companies also gain dramatic improvements to their bottom lines.

The reasons are plentiful. Companies that institute safety as part of their core make-up pay less in workplace compensation costs. They also find that they are better able to motivate workers when they create an environment that proves they care about workers, leading to increased productivity. This, in turn, leads to a strong reputation for the company among its workers and the industry at large, improving the potential for gaining top talent.

This focus on human safety should begin in the design of a new facility, and should be a priority at every stage in the building’s life cycle.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Safety begins with facility design &
continues through the building life cycle”

First, architects must review a building’s design to evaluate potential safety issues for future occupants. Then, contractors must account for jobsite safety throughout the construction processes. Finally, commissioning agents or facility managers should review the ease of repair and accessibility of maintenance tasks to see how the design might impact workers’ safety.

Companies that are truly committed to process improvements understand that ergonomically designed work flows can have a dramatic effect on workers’ health.

Creating an integrated ergonomics plan

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: 5 elements of an ergonomic-based
#design plan #AEC #safety

There are five points to consider in creating an ergonomic-based design plan:

  • The characteristics, capabilities, expectations, limitations, experiences and needs of the people who will operate, maintain, support and use the facilities.
  • The nature of the work involved in operating, maintaining and supporting the facility.
  • The work organization in terms of, for example, team structures, responsibilities, working hours and shift schedules.
  • The equipment and technology used, including the way equipment is laid out and the elements that people need to interact.
  • The work environment in which people are expected to work, including the operating conditions, lighting, reachability, walkability and exposure to other health hazards.

Integration of these five elements leads to a more efficient workflow. But creating a solution that accounts for each of these challenges can be tricky. More firms are turning to human task simulation as an early part of their early design work.

Benefits to simulating human tasks

When AEC companies simulate human tasks, they can design better work systems, workplaces and products that improve safety across the building’s entire life cycle.

Human task simulation can ultimately:

  • Reduce risks to health, personal and process safety and the environment.
  • Reduce the likelihood of human error in production processes.
  • Improve human efficiency and productivity, thereby enhancing operational performance.
  • Improve user acceptance of new facilities.

But the benefits of human task simulation can also lead to benefits for AEC partners. These benefits include:

  • Costs reduction through more efficient design that prevents the need for expensive changes and/or rework late in the design phase.
  • Reduced need for rework or changes during or after construction.
  • Reductions in life cycle costs for operating and maintaining facilities.
  • Improvements in health, safety and environment (HSE) performance, and reduced operational HSE risk.
  • Enhanced user commitment, often resulting in faster approval cycles.

How human task simulation works

Solutions such as the DELMIA Work Safety Engineer on the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform allows users to create, simulate and validate operational tasks in a virtual environment. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform makes available a wide range of manipulation and ergonomics analysis tools that let designers explore early on how their choices can impact the end-users’ ergonomic performance.

Human task simulation allows users to define and simulate the way a worker performs tasks in the workplace and on the worksite. The DELMIA Work Safety Engineer, for example, has a lifelike figure perform predefined actions such as picking up and placing objects, walking, using a tool, or operating a device. Through these tools, designers can better prevent workplace injuries with early identification of potential ergonomics-related problems.

Through simulation, designers can better identify the best of several potential safety solutions and make an early impact on long-term worker safety.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: How Human Task Simulation
Can Identify #AEC Safety Risks

Related Resources

Video: Optimized Construction

Video: Optimized Planning

Learn more about the Optimized Construction Industry Solution Experience for AEC

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is building a huge rocket factory in Florida

By Alyssa
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+



Byline: Tim Fernholz

Blue Origin_feature

Blue Origin, the space company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, said it broke ground on a 750,000-square-foot “orbital vehicle” factory in Florida, to build full-scale rockets that could reach the International Space Station or the altitudes where satellites orbit.

“We’re clearing the way for the production of a reusable fleet of orbital vehicles that we will launch and land, again and again,” Bezos confirmed via email.

Blue Origin’s current rocket, the New Shepard, became the first vertical take-off vehicle to fly to space, land on Earth, and fly to space again earlier this year. However, the vehicle lacks the capability to earn money doing anything but giving people a good view.

Blue Origin_inline 1

Now the company is aiming to build more useful rockets to compete with companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA), the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin that launches most US government satellites.

Previously, Blue Origin announced it would build a new engine for ULA to help pave the way for its own orbital rockets. (And a ULA executive got in hot water earlier this year after praising Blue Origin’s efforts on the engine over that of another company working on the project, saying that ULA is “doing all this work for both of them, and the chances of Aerojet Rocketdyne coming in and beating the billionaire is pretty low. We’re putting a whole lot more energy into BE-4, Blue Origin.”)

That engine will be initially manufactured at Blue Origin’s main facility in Washington state before moving to an as-yet identified full-scale manufacturing facility, but it will be installed in the rockets built in Florida.

Blue Origin_inline 2

The new Blue Origin factory will share many of the technical features pioneered at SpaceX’s California rocket factory, including large-scale friction stir welding to join together the body of the rocket, and “automated composite processing equipment,” or the 3D-printed carbon fiber to make things like the faring or nose cone of the rocket that protects a satellite during launch.

Slated to open its doors in December 2017, the factory would mark Blue Origin’s ability to compete directly with ULA and SpaceX in the rocket business, instead of simply being a partner or a critic of the larger enterprises.

Around that time, however, Boeing and SpaceX will be gearing up to be the first private companies to fly humans into orbit.



To discuss this and other topics about the future of technology, finance, life sciences and more, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Making Ships Smart and Connected

By Catherine
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

By Catherine Bolgar

Concept of fast or instant shipping


The high seas are getting connected. While oceangoing ships now can contact land via radio and satellite, in the future shipping companies will be able to track vessels and many aspects of their operations constantly, in real time.

Smart, connected technology will not just make ships more visible but also should improve safety. The record already is improving: 75 ships went down in 2014 according to the latest data available, the lowest in a decade. When the El Faro container ship was lost in a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean in 2015, with 33 crew lost, it took almost a month to find the wreckage.

Still, “it’s not as easy to lose a ship as an airplane,” says Ørnulf Jan Rødseth, senior scientist, maritime transport systems, at the Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute (Marintek) in Trondheim, Norway. “Today not all ships are connected, but it’s increasingly common. The crew needs to be in touch with operations at home and with families.”

Aqua satellite - 3D renderMost big container ships already have high-capacity satellite communications. “They have Internet of Things systems on board to collect data from the ship and send [it] to shore,” he says, adding that demand is strong enough that some satellite operators now focus just on shipping—and coverage is improving, especially on the Atlantic.

One possibility is that connected ships could become autonomous. “The assumption is that ships can operate more-or-less on their own in less traffic or wide fairways. But they would need remote control in congested waters,” Mr. Rødseth says.

An autonomous ship would have to be continuously monitored by a shore control center to make sure all systems are operating correctly and so that human operators could intervene if necessary, he says, similar to metro systems in some cities.

Crew negligence was associated with three of the top five causes of marine insurance claims in 2014, the most recent year for data, according to “Safety and Shipping Review 2015” by Allianz AG. The International Marine Organization tallied 1,051 lives lost in 2012, the most recent data.

Just by removing people from the ship, you remove lots of incidents and deaths in shipping,” Mr. Rødseth says. It could even affect piracy: “If you don’t have a crew on the ship, there’s no one to ransom,” he notes.

Without a crew, a ship could be configured completely differently. The crew space is proportionally greater on smaller ships, such as for inland waterways or coastal shipping. On some vessels, the crew—including cabins, workspaces, kitchen, lifeboats and so on—take up a significant part of the space, he says. Without a captain at the helm, there’s no need for a steering tower, reducing drag. For a 100-meter ship, a crew-free design could result in 25% to 40% energy savings.

Shore crane loading containers in freight shipThe problem is, ships are extremely expensive, so it isn’t possible to just build a prototype of an oceangoing vessel. Instead, inland waterways are likely to be the first movers, because the fleet is old and they are relatively expensive to operate, Mr. Rødseth says. In Belgium, Catholic University of Leuven is part of a group researching autonomous shuttle barges on inland waterways.

Smart, connected technology also is coming to cargo. Intermodal containers have seen improvements, such as refrigeration, since Malcolm P. McLean invented them in 1956. But nobody knows exactly how many containers are lost at sea. The World Shipping Council estimates 675 a year.

Traxens, a Marseille, France, logistics technology company, aims to revolutionize the intermodal container process by better tracking containers remotely.

“Up to now, when ship containers are sent around the world they don’t generate any data automatically,” says Tim Baker, Traxens’ director of marketing and communications. “If a container is taken off a truck or put on rail and if somebody doesn’t note it manually, or if somebody forgets a transfer, then there’s no information system that’s aware of this, and nobody can take corrective action.”

Shipping lines collectively handle 20 million to 25 million containers per year.

If they know where containers are,” Mr. Baker says, “they can optimize resources, reduce transit times.”

They can also eliminate unnecessary trips of empty containers being returned to the shipyard when another empty container is heading to a different customer down the road for loading.

Previous efforts by companies to track containers tended to focus on individual units. “That isn’t scalable,” Mr. Baker says, because the company putting cargo in the container has to get a tracking device, install it, and remove it at the end of the journey, for each of many containers.

Traxens focuses on a solution for the entire industry, using technology-equipped containers that keep their tracking systems for a minimum of three years of battery life. The containers’ sensors monitor temperature, shock, vibration, humidity and so on, and communicate by radio with other containers on the ship to save battery life. Rather than each container transmitting data, the mesh of containers chooses the container best suited for transmitting—good battery level, clear view of the sky—and sends the assembled data to shore periodically using mobile-phone technology.

The shipping industry has reduced unit costs by building bigger ships, but “that way of optimizing has come to an end,” Mr. Baker says. “The next step is data.”



Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

Page 5 of 287« First...34567...102030...Last »