Today, as part of my Human Factors course, we had a field trip to a local Sony TV manufacturing plant here in Pennsylvania. In class, we talk about job safety and the related anthropometric and biomechanical issues. Going to an actual factory was a good opportunity for us to probe how all that theory is applied in real life and actual job stations, and how the manufacturing operation in general runs. Plus, it was just cool :)
They made us sign an NDA so I can’t really post in detail about everything I saw, but I guess it was similar to many other factory settings. But one thing that shouldn’t really be a secret to anyone these days is that manufacturing in the US is very expensive compared to Asia or even Mexico labor-cost-wise, so that factory has in the past had much more staff work there than they currently have.
For me, it was just interesting because I haven’t really gone to factories and manufacturing settings that often (ever?). Yet this is where everything in our life comes from these days – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the electronics we use, the cars we drive… so it’s good to have some perspective into that in general, and the Human Factors and safety issues associated with it in particular.