Interactive methods to involve users into workspace design process

2013 – The paper: Interactive methods to involve users into workspace design process was submitted by Danish authors (Conceiçao et al) at the 50th international congress of the Société d’Ergonomie de Langue Francaise.

The premise of the study is that poorly designed work situations will lead to health, safety and wellbeing problems and to low efficiency and productivity. There is a lot of scientific knowledge available to do this better, but that knowledge is applied insufficiently or too late in the process.
The basis for a design should include the activities of the users in the operation and in the maintenance. And that is why user participation in the design process is essential.
In the paper the authors describe a case of the design of a new packaging line for cheese in a dairy, where in addition to an Ergonomic Work Analysis ( EWA , Guerin et al, 2001), two interactive methods were used: 1) the Workbook and 2) the Layout design game. The research question was whether useful input could be obtained in the design process through these methods and whether time savings could be achieved.

Methods and application
The Workbook method works as follows. A number of photos of the production line  was taken, by the researchers in this case. A book was created around each picture and the four operators could record their comments in the books during 10 days: bottlenecks or problems with red, good practices with green and yellow for remaining remarks.
The Layout design game consists of several workshops.  In this case, a newly designed packaging line on a playing board was presented to the operators. For machinery and equipment there were loose pieces that could be placed and moved on the board by the players.
For the cheese packaging line two layout proposals came from the first workshop. In the next workshop the operators reflected on these two proposals using the comments in the Workbooks and the results of the EWA; they put sticky notes in different colors for positive or negative commentary.

By involving users in the design in this way, generally originated more insight into the operation of the existing packing line and in the positive and negative aspects to be taken in to account in the redesign. There were also collected a number of specific points, such as the need to avoid that operators have to run around to the whole line for (emergency) operations. In general, the staff came up with more direct problems, and the researchers with ‘broader’ problems such as duplications of  work in  the line and reversed coincidences in the process.
The authors emphasize the importance of applying these methods together and together with the ‘traditional’ EWA, where the interactive methods can also be used alone and have added value when there is little time to redesign or by inexperienced ergonomists.

Conceiçao Carolina; Broberg, Ole; Banke, Palle; Aldrich, Per. (2013) Interactive methods to involve users into workspace design process. Paper on the 50-ème congrès international. Société d’Ergonomie de Langue  Francaise.

Topics : Innovative workplaces, Monitoring & Evaluation
Source: Article