HR professionals in the manufacturing sector reported that older workers of age 55 and older were projected to make up approximately 26% of the labor force by the year 2022 (versus 21% in 2012 and 14% in 2002) [ref: S. Research. Preparing for an aging workforce – manufacturing industry report. Technical report, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2015.].

Nowadays, in partially automated hybrid human/machine mixed-model assembly lines despite improvements in technology, the role of the human workforce is still crucial. Physical abilities are still required in order to carry out more complex production stages not fully automated such as final assembly operations. Furthermore, cognitive skills are needed by workers to interact with new technologies and to be able to cope with organizational strategies such as job rotation. There are hundreds of tasks in the manufacturing assembly process, which differ in terms of posture, workload, and complexity and require both manual labour as well as extensive cognitive workload. In automotive industry, assembly lines can produce 2-3 different models of a product, each with dozens of possible variations.

There is a small tolerance for errors in an often-customizable production unit; therefore, workers need to be constantly aware of the specific order and customizations needed to be made. Despite, the need for new organizational tools able to take into account age-related changes in workforce productivity, still not enough has been done to incorporate the human component into traditional scheduling theory in the most reliable way possible.

Transportation & Logistics

Port work activities involve loading procedures, unloading, transport and storage of goods, such as container movement, liquids, solids, fractionated products and roll on/roll off, as well as pilotage, workboat and tug operation, ship repairs vessel traffic management and similar marine activities.

Dock workers are usually exposed to stressful and dangerous working conditions. Commonly shift work (morning, afternoon, night) can impact in sleep deprivation, misalignment of circadian rhythms, drowsiness and performance deficits. Noise, vibrations, dust, wind and tide are commonly occurring in ports. Workers who performs handwork and requires physical strength to carry out activities is prone to musculoskeletal disorders.

Beyond the physical issue of the port work, the mental issue, in relation to the demand of attention and concentration at work is important as workers need to be always alert. High physical and mental demands, beyond the capacity of individuals, contribute to build a negative work environment, thus there is a need to develop joint strategies between employees and the management of port work, to increase the physical and mental well-being when carrying out tasks.