Integrating ergonomic knowledge into engineering design processes

Lene Bjerg Hall-Andersen

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

    1729 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Integrating ergonomic knowledge into engineering design processes has been shown to contribute to healthy and effective designs of workplaces. However, it is also well-recognized that, in practice, ergonomists often have difficulties gaining access to and impacting engineering design processes. This PhD dissertation takes its point of departure in a recent development in Denmark in which many larger engineering consultancies chose to established ergonomic departments in house. In the ergonomic profession, this development was seen as a major opportunity to gain access to early design phases.
    Present study contributes new perspectives on possibilities and barriers for integrating ergonomic knowledge in design by exploring the integration activities under new conditions. A case study in an engineering consultancy in Denmark was carried out. A total of 23 persons were interviewed in the consultancy, involving CEOs (N = 2), ergonomists (N = 10) and engineering designers (N = 11). The interviews were supplemented by observations and document studies. The analysis activities were based on a combination of inductive and deductive approaches. The theoretical framework includes perspectives on learning and knowledge management and theoretical concepts of objects derived from Science and Technology Studies. This combination of theoretical perspectives is new with this area. In the engineering consultancy setting the proximity, which arose from the ergonomists and engineering designers being employed in the same company, constituted a supporting factor for the possibilities to integrate ergonomic knowledge into the engineering design processes. However, the integration activities remained discrete and only happened in some of the design projects. A major barrier was related to the business-driven design context and its constant focus on maximizing the profit of the individual design projects. This barrier was strongly reinforced by focal points in the performance measurement system. In this businessdriven setting, possibilities to integrate ergonomic knowledge in design projects can be linked to the ergonomic ambitions of the clients. The ergonomists’ ability to navigate, act strategically, and compromise on ergonomic inputs is also important in relation to having an impact in the engineering design processes. Familiarity with the engineering design terminology and the setup of design projects seems to enhance the ergonomists’ ability to act in design. The study also focuses on the important – but often unrecognized – role that objects can play during integration activities. In the direct communication between ergonomists and engineering designers, objects can help to facilitate a dialogue across the knowledge boundaries between the actors. However, objects used as means of transferring ergonomic knowledge over a distance face difficulties in performing a distant effect, hence they should be supported by inclusion of an ergonomist who can assist, for instance when different design criteria conflict. Additional findings and implications are presented and discussed in the overall thesis and in the four articles which constitute the dissertation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby
    PublisherDTU Management Engineering
    Number of pages145
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Cite this

    Hall-Andersen, L. B. (2013). Integrating ergonomic knowledge into engineering design processes. Kgs. Lyngby: DTU Management Engineering.
    Hall-Andersen, Lene Bjerg. / Integrating ergonomic knowledge into engineering design processes. Kgs. Lyngby : DTU Management Engineering, 2013. 145 p.
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    Hall-Andersen, LB 2013, Integrating ergonomic knowledge into engineering design processes. DTU Management Engineering, Kgs. Lyngby.

    Integrating ergonomic knowledge into engineering design processes. / Hall-Andersen, Lene Bjerg.

    Kgs. Lyngby : DTU Management Engineering, 2013. 145 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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    Hall-Andersen LB. Integrating ergonomic knowledge into engineering design processes. Kgs. Lyngby: DTU Management Engineering, 2013. 145 p.