Workplace and Product Design

  A person with a head mounted display assembles a carburetor Copyright: © Mario Irrmischer  

In a work system, people interact with equipment to perform a task. The ergonomic design of the work system includes the design of the workplace, equipment, processes, and the work environment as well as the product design. The basic guiding idea is to simultaneously fulfil both human and productivity criteria. Decisive for ergonomic design are therefore not only the economic criteria but also the consideration of the abilities and skills of the working people. Examples of issues include the analysis, evaluation and optimization of work-related stresses, the structuring of work processes and the design of human-machine interfaces. In view of the increasing complexity of such systems, the ergonomic design of work systems is challenging and at the same time absolutely necessary.

A central aspect of workplace design is the layout and adaptation of the workplace, taking into account, for example, manual and visual accessibility as well as forces and loads acting from outside. Last but not least, ergonomic workplace design ensures the legally prescribed protection of the safety and health of employees. The prevention of work-related illnesses among employees requires a comprehensive view of the work system, in which the heterogeneous characteristics and abilities of employees are taken into account. The consideration of individual differences between people in a work system is particularly important when seen against the backdrop of demographic change and a higher proportion of older people in the work force.

The consideration of human skills and abilities with respect to usability also plays a decisive role. Both human-machine interfaces and – in the case of manufacturing companies – product design must be optimized in terms of usability. A user-friendly design takes into account the various characteristics and abilities of the worker.