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According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the incidence rate of non-fatal accidents at work in the European Uonion during 2021 was 1,5%; a very small number, we could think, immagining how many people live and work in this area. But in absolute terms this means that 2.88 million non-fatal accidents happened at work in this time and area, plus 3347 fatal accidents.

These are not small numbers, expecially in the three main industry sectors in which these unfortunate events happened: costruction (22,5%), transportation and storage (16,7%) and manufactuirng (14,7%).

These numbers are a strong check reality of all the work that is still needed to make our workplaces more secure, without fogetting the company’s need for productivity and quality; something that Samac has been trying to do for almost 50 years.

We strongly believe that tha automation, if well used, could be a key element in solving many safety problems, as stated by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in 2022 in his publication “Advanced Robotics and automation: What are the risks and opportunities for occupational safety and health?”. In this document it’s clearly exposed that introducing advanced robotic systems into the workplace can help in numerous ways. For example, “if the task allocation is performed well, it can increase system performance, reduce errors, optimise workload, increase motivation, satisfaction and wellbeing. In addition to that, trust and acceptance are likely to increase, as attitudes are shaped by exposure to a system”. It can also be useful in hazardous environments, where the physical well being of the workers could be seriously in danger. A well thought robotic system could mean the complete removal of humans from these types of situations, plus the improvement of physical health especially when assembly and lifting tasks are required.

Samac has a lot of experience in delivering solutions optimized for the last kind of benefits, the physical ones, because is the type most directly related to our work. During the years we were asked many times to realized ergonomics lines, designed to have top efficiency for the company and top comfort for the operators, especially when heavy components and women workers were involved.

For example, in one of our recent applications, we were asked to keep in mind that the work the operators would have done with our equipment would have been very fast and repetitive, two conditions that could easily cause a lot of errors and accidents. So, to better do our job we realized during the design phase a cardboard model of the line to better highlight the possible problem for the operators (height of the work surface, distance of the operator from the shelves or material supply boxes, heights of the screen terminals, etc.). These models were taken to the customer’s premises, where simulations of the assembly process were carried out and then analysed with the help of software which uses augmented reality. Thanks to this software we were able to make also digital models (which can be analysed by computer) of our workstations and the customer’s employees could carry out in augmented reality tests of the assembly. Then, for each station, a report was drawn up with the corrections to be done. All of this required a lot of work from both our and the client side, but at the end we were sure that we had done everything possible to preserve the safety and health of the operators and the feeling was very rewarding.

We of course know that there are also some risks related to the use of advanced robotic systems, like the feeling of losing control of one’s job or a lower level of attention of one’s surroundings, but we are still convinced that the benefits of a well done automation solution are bigger than the drawbacks, and we hope with this article to have shown you why and how it can be done.


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