Modified sequencing in window manufacturing to promote physical distancing and mitigate the risk of COVID‑19 infection among workers

Al-Hussein, Mohamed | $50,000

Alberta University of Alberta 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The spread of COVID‑19 has had an enormous socio-economic impact on Canada, forcing non-essential businesses to shut down and putting almost unprecedented strain on the job market. Preventative measures such as physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and proper hygiene are recommended by health authorities as a way of mitigating the risk of infection. However, it is difficult to operate efficiently while ensuring compliance with these protocols in factory environments where workers are in constant physical proximity to one another.

The purpose of this research project is to promote physical distancing among workers and reduce the risk of COVID‑19 infection by modifying the sequence of operations in a window manufacturing facility. Since the window manufacturing process is highly complex, the proposed research will focus on changing the sequence of operations and the layout of production lines to mitigate work-related interactions among workers and allow more space to maintain proper physical distancing.

Among the steps involved in manufacturing a typical window, installation of hardware is one of the most complex and time-consuming processes, since it requires workers to operate on all four sides of the window frame. In order for workers to rotate the window frame with ease, the existing hardware installation workstations are designed with a much larger footprint as compared to other workstations. This limits the space available around these workstations, making it difficult for workers to move freely and operate efficiently under the current physical distancing protocols.

This research proposes a more streamlined hardware installation process wherein the hardware is installed directly on the linear PVC profiles, as an alternative to the existing process of installing the hardware on the welded 2D window frame. These modifications will create additional floor space around the workstations such that workers can maximize physical distancing and mitigate the risk of COVID‑19 infection.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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