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Force, Power and Human Operated Machines

Maximum force or power available in human operated machines.

For man operated machines the force and power must be kept within certain limits.

Human sitting and standing force

  • for a sitting person with a solid backrest the maximum horizontal force acting on a pedal is typically 1000 N
  • for a sitting person the maximum vertical force acting on a pedal is typically 300 N
  • for a standing person the maximum vertical force acting on a pedal is typically 500 N
  • Human force and power - level and rotating wheel for a standing person the maximum force required to repeatedly act on a vertical level - like a pump - should not exceed 90 - 100 N. The frequency should not exceed 20 beats per minute
  • for a standing person operating a rotating wheel or crank arm - the length of the arm (or radius of the wheel) should be approximately 0.4 m and maximum force should not exceed 130 N. The wheel or crank arm speed should not exceed 25 - 30 rpm. The center of the axle should be at approximately level h = 1 m.

The power produced by a force acting on a rotating wheel or crank shaft can be calculated as

P = F r π nrpm / 30                 (1)


P = power (W)

F = force (N)

π = 3.14...

nrpm = rotations per minute (rpm, 1/min)

The power produced by a person at ideal conditions as indicated above can be calculated as

P = (130 N) (0.4 m) π (25 rpm)/ 30

   = 136 W  

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