The physical work environment and end-user requirements: Investigating marine engineering officers' operational demands and ship design
Journal article, 2016

BACKGROUND: Physical environments influence how individuals perceive a space and behave within it. Previous research has revealed deficiencies in ship engine department work environments, and their impact on crew productivity, health and wellbeing. OBJECTIVE: Connect operational task demands to pragmatic physical design and layout solutions by implementing a user-centric perspective. METHODS: Three focus groups, each consisting of three marine engineers participated in this study. Focus groups were divided into two sessions: first, to investigate the end-user's operational requirements and their relationship with ship physical design and layout. Second, criteria formulated from group discussions were applied to a ship design case study. All focus group sessions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were analyzed using Grounded Theory. RESULTS: Design choices made in a ships general arrangement were described to inherently influence how individuals and teams are able to function within the system. Participants detailed logistical relationships between key areas, stressing that the work environment and physical linkages must allow for flexibility of work organization and task execution. CONCLUSIONS: Traditional engine control paradigms do not allow effective mitigation of traditional engine department challenges. The influence of technology and modernization of ship systems can facilitate improvement of physical environments and work organization if effectively utilized.

Naval architecture

grounded theory



participatory design


Steven Mallam

Chalmers, Shipping and Marine Technology, Nautical Studies

Monica Lundh

Chalmers, Shipping and Marine Technology, Nautical Studies


1051-9815 (ISSN)

Vol. 54 4 989-1000

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics





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