Capturing ergonomics requirements in the global automotive industry
This thesis examines the issues surrounding the collection and dissemination of customer ergonomics requirements in the automotive industry. The aim of the research is to develop a Toolset of methods, known as the Lifestyle Scenario Toolset, for gathering customer requirements in overseas markets, and for presenting the information collected to design teams, taking a user-centred design approach. The Toolset was developed and evaluated with the co-operation of employees from a major UK automotive company. Four studies were conducted, the first comprised a series of interviews to establish the needs of both the data gatherers and data users for a Toolset of methods to collect and communicate overseas customer information. The data gatherers were drawn from the company's Market Researchers, Ergonomists and people responsible for the company's overseas operations. The data users were the design team responsible for the development of the company's next generation 4X4 vehicle. Results showed that the data collection tools which formed part I of the Toolset should be quick to use, require no ergonomics expertise to implement and be cost effective to use. The interviews with data users identified the need for tools which could communicate customer ergonomics requirements to them in a way which fitted in with their current working practices. In addition the tools needed to communicate information in language which was familiar to the design team, and be visually based where possible. The second study explored the development of suitable data collection tools for inclusion in the Lifestyle Scenario Toolset. Building on the needs identified in the first study together with information from the current literature a number of data collection tools were developed for inclusion in part I of the Lifestyle Scenario Toolset. These tools were a questionnaire, driving diary and photographs, focus group, ergonomics audit and background information tool. The tools were designed to collect a range of different data types, e.g. qualitative, quantitative, pictorial and customer verbatims, to provide a rich picture of users and their activities. The tools were used in a field trial to collect data from overseas customers about their ergonomics requirements and the tasks they carried out using their vehicle, in the context of their lifestyle. The third study focused on the development of a set of tools to communicate the data collected in part 1 of the Toolset, to the design team who would use it in their work. The data communication tools were developed to provide information to design teams at a number of levels, enabling them to use the data at an appropriate level for their needs. High level summaries of each of the tools were developed and scenarios presented on storyboards were used to integrate information from all of the data collection tools to provide detailed information about customers' ergonomics requirements and lifestyle. The data communication tools also used a variety of data types and presentation mediums, such as pictures, graphs and customer quotes to increase the richness of the data presented. The fourth study involved the evaluation of the suitability of the Toolset for collecting and communicating overseas customer ergonomics requirements. The data gatherers, and data users (design team) carried out a field trial using the Toolset to establish its usefulness to them in their work. The results of the evaluation showed that the data gatherers found the Toolset easy to implement and were able to use it to pick up overseas customers ergonomics requirements. The communication tools were able to provide the design team with new and useful customer ergonomics information, in a range of formats which they felt comfortable using in their work. The implementation of a user-centred design approach to the development of methods for collecting and communicating overseas customer ergonomics requirements enabled the creation of a Toolset which met the needs of the people who will use it. This increased its acceptance by people in the company and thus the likelihood of the Lifestyle Scenario Toolset's continued use within the company.