Information Requirements in a Proactive Assembly Work Setting
Licentiate thesis, 2009
Due to the increasingly competitive climate, the on-the-job behaviour of an operator becomes more and more essential for the success of a manufacturing company. In working contexts, which are dominated by changes and uncertainty, knowledge-based behaviour and work role aspects that cannot be formalized, proactive behaviour of the operator can contribute to competitive advantages.
Without waiting to be asked or instructed, the proactive operator uses his/her own initiative to change the present situation in the light of anticipated future demands and needs. In order to obtain and support proactive behaviour among operators on the shop floor, access to correct and essential information at the right time and in the right way is one important requirement. Hence, the objective of this thesis is to analyse information requirements in order to provide a basis for information interface design that supports a proactive behaviour of assembly operators.
A system approach was adopted and the foundation for this thesis is an extensive literature review. Further, an empirical case study was performed at a Swedish manufacturing company. The case study was analysed using work domain analysis and the purpose of this case study was to investigate the information used in an assembly work setting to accomplish various activities related to proactive behaviour. The result of this thesis is a synthesis of the information requirements found in the literature study and the empirical findings.
The thesis argues that the ability of the assembly operator to anticipate and plan for changes is highly dependent on what information to provide and when to present this information to the assembly operator. Both operational information and information related to the development of the assembly work setting are required to enable proactive behaviour of the assembly operator. When analysing the empirical findings in relation to the information requirements stated in literature, it was found that proactive behaviour of operators is, above all, related to access to why and what information. How-related information, however, can also be relevant for the proactive assembly operator if it relates to knowledge-based behaviour. Additionally, the expertise of the assembly operator refers to the control behaviour performed by the operator and determines the amount of information needed by the assembly operator. Finally, for information to be experienced as useful by the operator, it has to fulfil various criteria determining information quality. The thesis concludes that by analysing the type and amount of information to be presented to the assembly operator, and how to orchestrate information in a systematic way, it is possible to change the assembly operator from a passive monitor to an active problem solver.