The Open Cybernetics & Systemics Journal


ISSN: 1874-110X ― Volume 12, 2018

Improving the Production Performance and Ergonomic Aspects Using Lean and Agile Concepts

Marlene Ferreira Brito1, Ana Luísa Ferreira Andrade Ramos2, *, Paula Carneiro3, Maria Antónia Gonçalves4, José António de Vasconcelos Ferreira2, Ana Beatriz Tavares Frade5
1 Research Center of Mechanical Engineering (CIDEM), DEGEIT - University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
2 GOVCOPP Research Centre, DEGEIT – University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
3 ALGORITMI Centre, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
4 Research Center of Mechanical Engineering (CIDEM), ISEP - Polytechnique of Porto, Porto, Portugal
5 DEGEIT – University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal



The study described in this work took place in the sanding and polishing area of a meta-lurgical company, where workers’ complaints due to the strength needed to perform manual tasks, as well as their repetitive pattern, led to cases of shoulder pain and tendinitis.


The study aimed to evidence the benefits of using an integrated operations management approach, following lean/agile/ergonomic concepts, to improve the performance and ergonomic aspects of a production system.


Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) was the chosen method to evaluate the ergonomic situation, due to the existence of strong arm and hand exertions. Anthropometric studies were carried out in order to improve workers' workstations and a simulation model was developed to support decisions regarding the “best” layout configuration.


Through the enlargement of tasks, the reduction of waste and the reconfiguration to a cellular layout it was possible to increase the responsiveness and flexibility of the production system, to improve key performance indicators such as Lead time and Work in Progress, and to considerably improve the ergonomic conditions of the workers. The quantitative results suggest reductions of 80% in transportation times, 30% in lead time, 50% in Work In Process, and a decrease in the ergonomic risk from 5 to 4.


The results demonstrate that it is possible to reach an efficient production system, which meets safety and ergonomics requirements, by using lean and agile principles and companies should consider both ergonomic aspects and production performance during continuous improvement implementations to increase productivity and worker well-being.

Keywords: Agile, Ergonomics, Leagility, Lean manufacturing, Musculoskeletal disorders, productivity, RULA, Simulation.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2018
Volume: 12
First Page: 122
Last Page: 135
Publisher Id: TOCSJ-12-122
DOI: 10.2174/1874110X01812010122

Article History:

Received Date: 3/5/2018
Revision Received Date: 12/06/2018
Acceptance Date: 11/07/2018
Electronic publication date: 31/07/2018
Collection year: 2018

© 2018 Brito et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of GOVCOPP Research Centre, DEGEIT – University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal; Tel: +351234370361; E-mail: ARAMOS@UP.PT

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