Simulating Human Motion in Lightweight Flexible Material Handling

Project Leads: Drs. Clive D'Souza, Monica Jones, and Matthew Reed | Student Researchers: Justin Haney, Mary Owczarczak

A collaboration with the Humosim Laboratory


To develop mathematical models of human movement patterns for use in DHM software and computer aided design (CAD) of ergonomically sound work places. A laboratory-based human subjects study is currently ongoing with the purpose of recording and analyzing human movements during simulated work tasks that involve the coordinated handling of lightweight, continuous material during threading operations through a system of pulleys and idlers.


  • Predict postures, hand grasps, and motion trajectories for threading operations
  • Investigate relationship between task precision demands and task performance

Image above shows a research participant reaching contralaterally to thread a series of machined pulleys during the laboratory study.

Screen-shot of the digital simulation of the threading task using the Humosim Framework Implementation in Siemens JACK®.

Improper design of the workstation can lead to an exposure of biomechanical risk factors, such as awkward postures and high force exertions that have been associated to the development of musculoskeletal disorders. Digital human modeling (DHM) software (e.g. Jack and Process Simulate Human, Siemens) can aid in the design of the workstation by allowing engineers and designers to simulate tasks performed by the worker in order to determine potential areas of the workstation that might pose as a risk to the worker population.

Digital human modeling software currently lack the capability to simulate tasks that require handling of continuous flexible web material. This limitation stems from the inability to represent the material properties (such as geometry, tensile force) and the coordinated handling of such material by the worker. Improved accuracy, repeatability and utility of computer-aided ergonomic analyses for such tasks constrained by time, access, and material properties will reduce the need for users of DHMs to make assumptions about worker postures for successful task completion.


This study was sponsored by Procter and Gamble through the HUMOSIM Consortium.