Technology Adoption in Manufacturing and Usability Testing

The Humans Factors and Ergonomic Society of Australia (HFESA) has produced a podcast featuring a conversation between Valerie O’Keeffe and Sharon Todd, the President of HFESA. The podcasts can be accessed via the HFESA website or the HFE Hub website.

Valerie O’Keeffe has been a member of HFESA since 1992. She has taught HFE in universities in architecture, industrial design, healthcare, work health and safety and business management since 1997. She has worked as a Researcher in HFE since 2003.

The Significance of Valerie O’Keeffe’s Work on Technology Adoption in Australian Manufacturing

Valerie O’Keeffe is currently stationed at Flinders University Tonsley campus, previously the Mitsubishi automotive plant in southern Adelaide. The core objective of her research is to stimulate technology adoption within the manufacturing sector, focusing particularly on shipbuilding and its supply chain. Despite the manufacturing industry being highly dependent on knowledge and technology, Australian manufacturing has been slow in embracing advanced technologies such as robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. The ultimate aim of Valerie’s research is to amplify the willingness to adopt and use such technologies, thereby fostering a more innovative and competitive industry.

Human Factors Engineering (HFE) in the Age of Industry 4.0

The methodology employed in this research is rooted in Human Factors Engineering (HFE), which is indispensable for successful technology adoption. HFE applies a systems-centric, design-led, and user-focused approach to understand how end-users interact with new technologies. There are three primary goals of the HFE research conducted to date:

  1. Familiarise end-users with advanced technologies to promote adoption.
  2. Implement HFE-focused technology trials to test feasibility in relevant use-cases such as precision measurement in pipe fitting, digital work instructions using augmented reality, and remote inspections using autonomous robots like “Spot the quadruped.”
  3. Provide systems-oriented recommendations to enhance usability and seamless integration into business operations.

HFE proves its worth at multiple levels—from task-level usability testing to broader job design impacts and recommendations for cultural and management strategies.

The Interdisciplinary Team and Their Collaborative Efforts

The team behind this ground-breaking research is a multi-disciplinary collective comprising experts in robotics, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, psychology, HFE, Work Health Safety (WHS), and applied health sciences. This diverse pool of skills enables the engineers to operate the technologies and build user interfaces, while the HFE team works to design tasks using metrics such as workload, usability, performance, and risk ratings. An intriguing aspect of Valerie’s research is the meta human factors process involved in bridging distinct cultures—both within the team and between academia and industry. This highlights the complexity and collaborative nature of her research, making it a cornerstone in the push for technology adoption in Australian manufacturing.

Why Tune In?

These podcasts are a series of educational podcasts from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA). These podcasts focus on the connection between human capabilities and good design. Their aim is to promote the field of Human Factors and Ergonomics and provide guidance and professional development.

This podcast is of immense relevance for those intrigued by manufacturing, technology adoption, and Human Factors Engineering (HFE) within industrial settings. Professionals like manufacturing engineers, robotics specialists, supply chain managers, as well as researchers and academics delving into the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies, will find invaluable insights in the discussion presented. The podcast not only sheds light on the slow uptake of advanced technologies in Australian manufacturing but also delves into the multifaceted approaches needed for successful adoption, making it a must-listen for anyone invested in the future of manufacturing.

Please Share

This page can be shared on social media platforms and forums (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook). It would also be beneficial to share the podcast with individuals or organisations interested in the topics discussed in the podcast. When sharing, please use the following hashtags: #HFES #HFESA #TechnologyAdoption #ManufacturingInnovation #Industry4_0 #Shipbuilding #SupplyChain #HumanFactorsEngineering #WorkHealthSafety #UsabilityTesting #ManufacturingEngineers #Robotics #AugmentedReality #VirtualReality #BigData #AustralianManufacturing #HFEHub #OccupationalHealthandSafety #WorkDesign #PerformanceMetrics #TaskAnalysis #DigitalTwins #BusinessProcessIntegration #RemoteInspection #Cobots #MultiDisciplinaryTeams #UniversityResearch #PodcastDiscussion #FeasibilityTesting #UserCentricDesign #ChangeManagement #ProductivityMeasures


Prepared by Michael Dubos

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