Production line layout and design

Production line layout and design


Multinational food packaging company importing  bulk product and packing into smaller units for retail and commercial outlets


Staff sickness absence with an above average height male worker who was working on the product packing line. The employee had had a period of sickness with a shoulder and upper limb issue. The packing process at the time of the visit required staff to pick bags with one hand throw to the other and place into a box. Bags of product varied in weight from 250g to 2 kg.

What we did

Carried out an audit and task analysis of the manufacturing processes using a variety of assessment tools, including MAC, ART, QEC and REBA. Workstation measurements were taken to compare against accepted workstation design criteria and standards. Discussions were had with the employees carrying out the packing tasks, including the staff upstream operating the form, fill and seal equipment and downstream stacking the product boxes onto pallets.

Working heights were found to be different on each line and below recommended measurements. There was no side to side or line to line task rotation at the initial visit.

Recommendations included

  • Raising workbench heights and aligning all the lines to the same height, using anthropometric data to ensure optimum height ranges were advised
  • Provision of chairs to allow staff to sit or stand at the packing station
  • Rotate staff from side to side on each line to allow changes in picking hand from side to side
  • Rotate staff from line to line to vary the weights being handled

Benefits to client

  • Full return and integration of sick employee
  • Staff adopted task rotation processes happily
  • Decrease in number of staff making complaints to Occupational Health of wrist, shoulder and back pain.
  • Increase in production rate