Ergonomics integration and user diversity in product design
Consideration of products' ergonomic qualities is one important component for successful product development. Product designers engaged in the core activity of product development need methods that support the consideration of ergonomics along with other product requirements. This thesis aims to address these needs. The first part of the thesis investigates how people working within product development organisations communicate with and about users of their products. The general need for methods to support communication of user aspects in product development is identified through formal interviews with product developers and a review of the management, ergonomics and design literature. The second part of the thesis studies the factors which affect the integration of ergonomics in product design. Supportive methods, including User Characters, for evoking user consideration among designers together with Overlapping methods for scheduling ergonomics evaluation in product design processes are introduced and argued. The third part of the thesis reviews and discusses computer aided ergonomics as a means for integration of ergonomics in product design. A web-based support system for effective employment of human simulation tools is developed using a participative approach and evaluated based on the system's usability. The objective of the fourth part of the thesis is to study how human simulation tools can aid designers' consideration of human diversity to accommodate users of diverse anthropometric characteristics in multivariate design problems such as automobile cockpits. The work involves the evaluation of different approaches for the generation of specific manikin families which can be used as test groups for fitting trials in the virtual design process. The research demonstrates enhancements in design methodology knowledge to support integration of ergonomics in product design processes with a focus on anthropometric diversity in vehicle design.