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Coordinating the interruption of assembly workers in manufacturing
University of Skövde, School of Engineering Science. University of Skövde, The Virtual Systems Research Centre. (User Centred Product Design)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2627-0079
University of Skövde, School of Engineering Science. University of Skövde, The Virtual Systems Research Centre. (User Centred Product Design)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8369-5471
University of Skövde, School of Informatics. University of Skövde, The Informatics Research Centre. (Interaction Lab)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0946-7531
2017 (English)In: Applied Ergonomics, ISSN 0003-6870, E-ISSN 1872-9126, Vol. 58, p. 361-371Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper examines how interruptions from information and communications technology systems affect errors and the time to complete tasks for assembly workers. Interruptions have previously been examined in laboratory experiments and office environments, but not much work has been performed in other authentic environments. This paper contains the results of an experiment that was performed in a simulated manufacturing assembly environment, which tested the effects of interruptions on a manual assembly task. The experiment used existing interruption coordination methods as a basis, and the results showed a difference in the effect of interruptions and interruption coordination between cognitively complex laboratory tasks and manual assembly tasks in an authentic environment. Most notably, the negative effects of interruptions delivered without consideration were smaller in this experiment. Based on these findings, recommendations were developed for designing interruption systems for minimizing the costs (errors and time) imposed by interruptions during assembly tasks in manufacturing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017. Vol. 58, p. 361-371
Keywords [en]
Interruptions, Manual assembly, Manufacturing
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Technology; User Centred Product Design; Interaction Lab (ILAB); INF202 Virtual Ergonomics; INF302 Autonomous Intelligent Systems
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-12770DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2016.07.015ISI: 000384776100042PubMedID: 27633233Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84982833592OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-12770DiVA, id: diva2:951678
Projects
Sense&React
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, FP7-314350Available from: 2016-08-09 Created: 2016-08-09 Last updated: 2019-09-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Situating interruptions in manufacturing assembly
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Situating interruptions in manufacturing assembly
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Interruptions have been studied extensively, with interruptions experiments where tasks performed on computers are interrupted by another task received on the same computer having receiving much of the focus. Additionally, many of the tasks used in existing research have been designed specifically to test the effect of interruptions on humans by making both the interrupting task and the task being interrupted quite difficult. The studies introduced here show that these commonly used tasks do not accurately represent some aspects of the manual tasks commonly performed by humans outside of laboratory experiments, with the experiments in this thesis focusing on manual tasks in assembly. A notable difference identified here is that interruptions in manual assembly tasks were seen to always contain a negotiation element, meaning that the person being interrupted could always modify to some extent when to respond to interruptions. Another central finding is that breakpoints for smart interruption systems need to be chosen using even more care than suggested by existing research because of an effect that can cause a notification to be completely missed when sent at a point that seemed opportune. This is due to apparent lulls in the activity containing preparation for the next action, or anticipation of action, using the Activity Theory (AT) terms used in the analysis of this effect. AT was identified as a useful tool for the analysis of manual assembly as it supports a hierarchical analysis of the activity and takes into account operator skill (task familiarity) in an easy to understand manner.AT was further used in an observational study where current approaches to interruption management were observed and explored. A surprising conclusion was that classical interruptions, as commonly defined, where one task is interrupted and another task must be completed before resuming the main (primary) task were exceedingly uncommon. This was found to be due to the high task familiarity (skill level) of the workers, the assembly activities being designed to minimise the risk of interruptions, and workers being trained to always finish the current operation before switching to another task. Workers did however engage in conversation and an interesting style of communication, dubbed ebb-and-flow style of negotiation, was identified. The differences between the results found in literature and the results of the studies were synthesised into a theoretical framework, or a collection of theories that work together to support the analysis of interruptions, and a visual support tool for the theoretical framework was created. This visual support tool, called an activity board both binds together the theories in a way that should make the theoretical framework easier to understand, and provides the beginnings of an analysis tool for interruption using the framework.

Abstract [sv]

Denna avhandling undersöker hur olika former av att bli avbruten från sin nuvarande uppgift av antingen andra personer eller av datorbaserade informationssystem påverkar monteringspersonal inom tillverkningsindustrin. Avhandlingen presenterar sedan olika strategier för att reducera de negativa effekterna av avbrotten. Datorbaserade informationssystem (IT-system) används i allt större omfattning inom industrin för att effektivisera produktionen och undvika arbetskrävande manuell uppdatering av information. Notifieringar behövs eftersom montören kan ha behov av ny information som har blivit tillgänglig och i vissa fall måste arbetsuppgifter ändras omedelbart baserat på den nya informationen. Detta kräver olika former av avbrott och existerande forskning visar att det att bli avbruten kan leda till ökat antal fel, längre tid för att utföra den huvudsakliga uppgiften och ökad stress.

Avbrott har studerats tidigare för att testa när det är lämpligt att avbryta någon och hur. Dock har den tidigare forskningen främst genomförts i situationer som inte liknar vanliga arbetsuppgifter. Forskning finns där avbrott har observerats inom sjukvården, men det kan inte fastställas att samma teorier fungerar för att stödja montörer inom industrin.

En existerande och etablerad taxonomi för avbrott identifierades att vara av stor relevans för detta arbete, men eftersom taxonomin enbart hade använts på uppgifter av mer artificiell karaktär behövde den testas under mer verklighetsliknande förhållanden inom tillverkningsindustrin. Denna avhandling innehåller resultat från två experiment som utfördes för att undersöka om taxonomin även fungerar vid manuellt monteringsarbete inom tillverkningsindustrin. Eftersom att experimenten innebar en stor risk för ett ökat antal fel under monteringsarbetet valdes istället simulera en monteringslina, som innebär att en hyfsat verklighetstrogen monteringslina byggdes enbart för att bedriva experiment.

Resultaten visar att det finns skillnader mellan att använda uppgifter av artificiell karaktär i en labbmiljö och att använda mer autentiska uppgifter som efterliknar faktiskt monteringsarbete. En viktig skillnad som identifierades fick benämningen negotiation element, och visar hur det nästan alltid går att välja (till någon grad) när avbrott åtgärdas. Identifieringen av lämpliga avbrottstillfällen visade sig också vara svårare än vad som antogs på förhand, som ledde till det andra experimentet där detta studerades i mer detalj. Andra experimentet visade att en utav de förvalda avbrottstillfällena inte alls fungerade lika bra som förväntat. En observationsstudie utfördes också i en fullt naturlig tillverkningsmiljö för att kategorisera hur störningar hanteras av montörer i denna miljön. Denna studie visade att klassiska avbrott där montören byter ifrån sin uppgift till en annan uppgift var väldigt sällsynta, och detta sågs vara på grund av att uppgifterna är designade för att undvika avbrott, samt att montörerna är erfarna och har träning för att undvika avbrott. Resultaten från dessa tre studier användes för att bygga ihop olika teorier för att skapa ett teoretiskt ramverk som introduceras i avhandlingen. Detta ramverk använder grafiska metoder för att analysera och mer intuitivt kunna förstå hur avbrott inverkar på manuella monteringsuppgifter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Skövde: University of Skövde, 2019. p. 197
Series
Dissertation Series ; 28
National Category
Human Computer Interaction Human Aspects of ICT
Research subject
User Centred Product Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-16652 (URN)978-91-984918-0-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-02-26, Portalen, Insikten, Skövde, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Delarbete 5 (av 5). Kolbeinsson, A., Lindblom, J., & Thorvald, P. (2018). Well designed workspacesand work practices in manufacturing resist classical interruptions: How an assemblyline assembles engines. submitted for review.

Available from: 2019-02-21 Created: 2019-02-21 Last updated: 2019-02-22Bibliographically approved

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Kolbeinsson, AriThorvald, PeterLindblom, Jessica

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