Musculoskeletal modelling and simulation of oil palm fresh fruit bunch harvesting

Yon Sin Chan, Yu Xuan Teo, Darwin Gouwanda, Surya Girinatha Nurzaman, Alpha Agape Gopalai, Subbiah Thannirmalai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Oil palm harvesting is a labor-intensive activity and yet it was rarely investigated. Studies showed that complementing human motion analysis with musculoskeletal modelling and simulation can provide valuable information about the dynamics of the joints and muscles. Therefore, this study aims to be the first to create and evaluate an upper extremity musculoskeletal model of the oil palm harvesting motion and to assess the associated Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) risk. Tests were conducted at a Malaysia oil palm plantation. Six Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) and Surface Electromyography (sEMG) were used to collect kinematics of the back, shoulder and elbow joints and to measure the muscle activations of longissimus, multifidus, biceps and triceps. The simulated joint angles and muscle activations were validated against the commercial motion capture tool and sEMG, respectively. The muscle forces, joint moments and activations of rectus abdominis, iliocostalis, external oblique, internal oblique and latissimus dorsi were investigated. Findings showed that the longissimus, iliocostalis and rectus abdominis were the primary muscles relied on during harvesting. The harvesters were exposed to a higher risk of MSD while performing back flexion and back rotation. These findings provide insights into the dynamical behavior of the upper extremity muscles and joints that can potentially be used to derive ways to improve the ergonomics of oil palm harvesting, minimize the MSD risk and to design and develop assistive engineering and technological devices or tools for this activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8010
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2022

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