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  • Writer's pictureCecilia Wandiga

Kenya Sustainable Cities - Life Sciences and Industrial Engineering

Today we begin by using our imagination to create a vision that drives a goal: industrial operations that improve health and safety.

Imagine a factory. Now imagine a health spa in a natural retreat. Now imagine the two as the same place. What is the factory making?

The goal of factories is to maximize production of the product. However, we know that treating people like machines leads to both physical and emotional breakdown. These breakdowns cost factories money and this cost can be avoided if we focus on maximizing human relaxation in addition to maximizing production output. 

Things machines do better:


Structured tasks 

Rote processing (no need to think or reflect) 

Things humans do better:


Creative tasks 




Now imagine factory 2.0. The factory makes compressed soil bricks. Humans identify the sites from which soil is gathered, machines compress the bricks. Humans choose the colours and dyes that make the bricks unique. Machines repeatedly deliver the exact ratio needed for each brick to look beautiful and different. Humans adapt the chemical formulas so that compressed soil bricks can be used in different locations (near water, in cold climates), machines give the stress and endurance test results that certify the bricks will last as intended. 

When you design a factory for machines to produce at maximum, you calculate the cost of your equipment and you make sure that you have the right electricity, security, maintenance and funding to keep the machines running. 

When you hire workers for the factory, do you calculate how much food, security, maintenance and funding you need to keep the humans running or do you try to cut corners on any expenses related to the humans in your factory? 

The machines cannot operate themselves which means the most valuable asset in your factory is the human labour but you spend the majority of your efforts on the machines. Are you designing a work environment that creates fear, anxiety, conflict and frustration or are you designing a work environment that creates fulfillment, enthusiasm, harmony and dedication? 

Take a look at the list of stress triggers in this link and reflect on how many of the triggers exist in your factory or organization. 

If you can estimate the revenue loss due to a machine breakdown in your factory, what is the revenue loss due to a human breakdown in your factory? If there is no readily available answer, why is the full productivity cost of a machine that cannot run itself being tracked but the full productivity cost of the human needed to run the machine is ignored? 

Some ideas for estimating full productivity costs for humans

'Billions lost' to workplace stress in SA (2012)

Effects of Workplace Stress on Employee Performance in the County Governments in Kenya: A Case Study of Kilifi County Government (2015)

Experts warn employers about work-related stress (2017)

As we progress towards Vision 2030, we don't want a country full of sick or dead workers. We want a country full of both jobs and workers that enhance the quality of life and well-being. 

Positive transformation begins with you and the environment you create in your daily activities. Create the best human environment on a daily basis. By letting life into the factory, the science of well being becomes an observable daily practice. 

Some visual inspiration to get you started 

What is your vision for creating factories and organizations in which human well-being is at the maximum?

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