Human variability, task complexity and motivation contribution in manufacturing

This paper is a preliminary study of the human contribution to variability in manufacturing industry and how motivation and learning play a key role in this contribution. The longer term aim is to incorporate this understanding in a methodology, using principles and guidelines, that aims to help in the design of intelligent automation that reduces product variability. This paper reports on the early stages that are concerned with understanding relationships between human-induced product variability, task complexity and human characteristics and capabilities. Two areas have been selected for initial study in manufacturing industry: (a) the relationship between manual task complexity and product variability and (b) the relationship between employee motivational factors and learning behaviours. The paper discusses the progress to date in conducting initial empirical studies and surveys in industry and draws tentative conclusions of the value of this knowledge to the overall objective of intelligent automation.