Loughborough University
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Workforce challenges: 'inclusive design' for organizational sustainability

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posted on 2013-06-25, 08:57 authored by Amjad Hussain
Today's challenge for workforce management lies in providing a healthy, safe and productive working culture where people are valued, empowered and respected. Workforce diversity is becoming an essential aspect of the global workforce, and ageing is the most prominent and significant factor in this regard. Diversity brings many opportunities and challenges, as workers with different backgrounds, cultures, working attitudes, behaviours and age work together, and in future, the key to organizational effectiveness and sustainability will heavily depend on developing and sustaining inclusive work environments where people with their differences can co-exist safely and productively. Manufacturing organizations expect the highest levels of productivity and quality, but unfortunately the manufacturing system design process does not take into account human variability issues caused by age, skill, experience, attitude towards work etc. This thesis focuses on proposing an inclusive design methodology to address the design needs of a broader range of the population. However, the promotion and implementation of an inclusive design method is challenging due to the lack of relevant data and lack of relevant tools and methods to help designers. This research aims to support the inclusive design process by providing relevant data and developing new design methodologies. The inclusive design methodology suggested in this thesis is a three step approach for achieving a safe and sustainable work environment for workers, with special concern for older workers. The methodology is based on the provision of relevant human capabilities data, the capture and analysis of difference in human behaviour and the use of this knowledge in a digital human modelling tool. The research is focused on manual assembly through a case study in the furniture manufacturing industry and joint mobility data from a wide-ranging population has been analysed and the task performing strategies and behaviours of workers with different levels of skills have been recorded and analysed. It has been shown that joint mobility significantly decreases with age and disability and that skilful workers are likely to adopt safer and more productive working strategies. A digital human modelling based inclusive design strategy was found to be useful in addressing the design needs of older workers performing manufacturing assembly activities. This strategy validates the concept of using human capabilities data for assessing the level of acceptability of any adopted strategy for older workers, and suggests that the strategies adopted by skilful workers are more likely to be equally acceptable for older and younger workers keeping in view differences in their joint mobility. The overall purpose of this thesis is to present a road map towards the promotion and implementation of the inclusive design method for addressing workforce challenges and in future the same strategies might be implemented within a variety of other industrial applications. The proposed three step inclusive design methodology and getting a reasonable understanding of human variability issues along with the use of human capabilities data (joint mobility in this case) in a human modelling system for design assessment at a pre-design stage can be considered as the major contributions of this research.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Amjad Hussain

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en