Presenting information in manual assembly
2011-10-24T12:47:58Z (GMT) by
Ever since industrialization, manufacturing companies have competed with each other in trying to make the best and the cheapest product and the automotive industry is definitely no exception. The arms race between truck and car manufacturers has pushed manufacturing technology and production practice to where it is today. However, whereas companies have traditionally competed with the engineering excellence and technology of their products, the human effort in production is often neglected. After all, there are still many tasks that require the flexibility and intelligence of a human worker. This thesis focuses entirely on the information context of assembly workers. It investigates and discusses their general information behaviour in terms of information need, syntax of information, information sources and technology as well as basic cognitive abilities used to utilize information such as attention and memory. The thesis presents relevant literature on the subject of information behaviour and pinpoints potential hazards of information design in manual assembly. It also identifies three hypotheses that suggest improved productivity and quality of work as a result of certain changes in the information landscape. One hypothesis deals with the layout of information, a second deals with the syntax used to identify parts and a third deals with the information medium used to convey information. Analysis of empirical data gathered shows, among other things, that using unstructured and batched information favours productivity of work; using a syntax with semantic content as opposed to traditional article numbers without any semantic content also improves productivity of work; and using a mobile information unit betters the quality of work. The purpose of the thesis is to present the beginnings of a road map towards the greater understanding of information presentation in manual assembly. As previous research on this application area has been scarce, it draws upon existing theories found in other sciences, primarily cognitive science and its applications such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), information theory and human error.