FCA uses thermography to anticipate possible injuries and offer preventative solutions to workers
July 29, 2019 - Widely used in the sports world to evaluate athletes, thermography is also used in industries. However, its application has been restricted to machines, until now. Since the focus of ergonomics is to prevent injuries due repetitive or poorly executed efforts, FCA has taken the initiative to use the same machine used for equipment maintenance to assess employee predisposition to possible injuries. This use, in the mold of the Industry 4.0, is a pioneering strategy in Brazil.
In addition to the big robots that do the heavy lifting, there are also small collaborative ones that help workers, the exoskeletons, that help carry loads and assist with posture, and other technologies such as virtual reality, which adapts production lines to more favorable conditions for the employees.
Thermography cameras detect the infrared spectrum and, thus, measure temperature differences. Therefore, it’s possible to use it on people to identify a predisposition to injuries and anticipate treatment. "A predisposition to injury will have a higher than normal temperature reading. In thermography, temperatures send an alert and, with that, we can act preventively ", affirms work physiotherapist Izonel Fajardo, responsible for the ergonomics at FCA. FCA is the first industry in Brazil to adopt this technique with an emphasis on occupational health.
In the newly inaugurated World Class Center, at the Fiat Automotive Plant in Betim (MG, Brazil), there is the Ergo Lab space, the FCA's Ergonomics Laboratory. It is here that the thermographs of the 24 workers participating in the pilot project, which began in October 2018, are analyzed. Volunteers are evaluated continuously so that the progress of the measurements can be monitored. Photos with a thermographic camera are taken at the beginning of the work day. The technology helps evaluate blood vessels, tendons, muscles and innervations