Design for human factors (DfHF): a grounded theory for integrating human factors into production design processes
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2021, 12:09 by Judy Lynn Village, Cory Searcy, Filippo A. Salustri, W. Patrick Neumann
The ‘design for human factors’ grounded theory explains ‘how’ human factors (HF) went from a reactive, after-injury programme in safety, to being proactively integrated into each step of the production design process. In this longitudinal case study collaboration with engineers and HF Specialists in a large electronics manufacturer, qualitative data (e.g. meetings, interviews, observations and reflections) were analysed using a grounded theory methodology. The central tenet in the theory is that when HF Specialists acclimated to the engineering process, language and tools, and strategically aligned HF to the design and business goals of the organisation, HF became a means to improve business performance. This led to engineers ‘pulling’ HF Specialists onto their team. HF targets were adopted into engineering tools to communicate HF concerns quantitatively, drive continuous improvement, visibly demonstrate change and lead to benchmarking. Senior management held engineers accountable for HF as a key performance indicator, thus integrating HF into the production design process. Practitioner Summary: Research and practice lack explanations about how HF can be integrated early in design of production systems. This three-year case study and the theory derived demonstrate how ergonomists changed their focus to align with design and business goals to integrate HF into the design process.