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Human Factors in Automated Processes

Andersson, Kristina LU and Hultgren, Emmy (2011) MMK920 20111
Product Development
Abstract
In today’s dynamic market the use of knowledge about Human Factors is becoming a competitive mean to drive development and enhance usability. This Master Thesis is an attempt to study how increased machine reliance will affect the usability of equipment at Tetra Pak and also how Human Factors methods can affect and improve the development of new products and processes.

The object of study is a new line of more automated equipment (Easy ITS) within the Pre-press department at Tetra Pak. Aspects regarding execution of tasks, what machines are used, who the users are and the context of use were investigated. The main purpose of this Master Thesis was to integrate the operators’ working methods and preferences on an early stage in a... (More)
In today’s dynamic market the use of knowledge about Human Factors is becoming a competitive mean to drive development and enhance usability. This Master Thesis is an attempt to study how increased machine reliance will affect the usability of equipment at Tetra Pak and also how Human Factors methods can affect and improve the development of new products and processes.

The object of study is a new line of more automated equipment (Easy ITS) within the Pre-press department at Tetra Pak. Aspects regarding execution of tasks, what machines are used, who the users are and the context of use were investigated. The main purpose of this Master Thesis was to integrate the operators’ working methods and preferences on an early stage in a development project. By using Human Factors methods, future difficulties and errors were identified and solutions delivered.

The existing production line worked as the base for predictive analyses of the Easy ITS process and numerous observations and interviews were executed in two factories, one in Lund and one in Limburg. The collected data was presented and analysed using task analyses and a human error investigation approach called Systematic Human Error Reduction and Prediction Approach (SHERPA). When comparing the issues resulting from existing Pre-press SHERPAs with those of the Easy ITS SHERPA, the number of critical issues was alike, but the characteristics of the issues have shifted and new difficulties have become more prominent.

A comparison of the different factories revealed that automation facilitates the execution of tasks, but also limits the possibility to use home-made solutions or work around procedures to facilitate a task. The analyses provided an error distribution among the different machines and demonstrated where critical tasks took place. The issues found in the existing work process in Lund are equally divided between ergonomic issues and issues caused by human error. After the implementation of Easy ITS, ergonomic issues will increase and errors linked to human error decrease. This is due to a larger proportion of heavy sleeve handling in Easy ITS and less critical tasks related to precision when mounting clichés manually. Identified possible issues are described together with consequences and recommendations on how to improve the different processes. The study also illustrates that if suggested solutions are implemented the criticality of the Easy ITS line is significantly reduced.

The results show that it is not enough to simply automate a process and expect the operators’ working environment to improve and operator errors to diminish. An iterative process involving the users is vital also when developing more automated processes. The SHERPA technique used in this study was concluded to be too time-consuming and complex on the chosen level of detail. However, the task analysis was a very useful tool as it encourages developers to think about the process as a whole and creates a basic knowledge of the process under development. We strongly believe that Human Factors should be a part of the everyday development work in a company like Tetra Pak. (Less)
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author
Andersson, Kristina LU and Hultgren, Emmy
supervisor
organization
course
MMK920 20111
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Human Factors, automation, Human-machine interaction, User-centred design, human error identification, manual handling, task analysis
other publication id
LUTMDN/TMFL–5149–SE
language
English
id
2094843
date added to LUP
2011-09-14 11:09:57
date last changed
2011-09-14 11:09:57
@misc{2094843,
  abstract     = {In today’s dynamic market the use of knowledge about Human Factors is becoming a competitive mean to drive development and enhance usability.  This Master Thesis is an attempt to study how increased machine reliance will affect the usability of equipment at Tetra Pak and also how Human Factors methods can affect and improve the development of new products and processes. 

The object of study is a new line of more automated equipment (Easy ITS) within the Pre-press department at Tetra Pak. Aspects regarding execution of tasks, what machines are used, who the users are and the context of use were investigated. The main purpose of this Master Thesis was to integrate the operators’ working methods and preferences on an early stage in a development project. By using Human Factors methods, future difficulties and errors were identified and solutions delivered. 

The existing production line worked as the base for predictive analyses of the Easy ITS process and numerous observations and interviews were executed in two factories, one in Lund and one in Limburg. The collected data was presented and analysed using task analyses and a human error investigation approach called Systematic Human Error Reduction and Prediction Approach (SHERPA). When comparing the issues resulting from existing Pre-press SHERPAs with those of the Easy ITS SHERPA, the number of critical issues was alike, but the characteristics of the issues have shifted and new difficulties have become more prominent. 

A comparison of the different factories revealed that automation facilitates the execution of tasks, but also limits the possibility to use home-made solutions or work around procedures to facilitate a task. The analyses provided an error distribution among the different machines and demonstrated where critical tasks took place. The issues found in the existing work process in Lund are equally divided between ergonomic issues and issues caused by human error. After the implementation of Easy ITS, ergonomic issues will increase and errors linked to human error decrease. This is due to a larger proportion of heavy sleeve handling in Easy ITS and less critical tasks related to precision when mounting clichés manually. Identified possible issues are described together with consequences and recommendations on how to improve the different processes. The study also illustrates that if suggested solutions are implemented the criticality of the Easy ITS line is significantly reduced.

The results show that it is not enough to simply automate a process and expect the operators’ working environment to improve and operator errors to diminish. An iterative process involving the users is vital also when developing more automated processes. The SHERPA technique used in this study was concluded to be too time-consuming and complex on the chosen level of detail. However, the task analysis was a very useful tool as it encourages developers to think about the process as a whole and creates a basic knowledge of the process under development. We strongly believe that Human Factors should be a part of the everyday development work in a company like Tetra Pak.},
  author       = {Andersson, Kristina and Hultgren, Emmy},
  keyword      = {Human Factors,automation,Human-machine interaction,User-centred design,human error identification,manual handling,task analysis},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Human Factors in Automated Processes},
  year         = {2011},
}