Ergonomics

Technical Design

The concept of supervisory control supplies basic design indications, referring to the degree of mechanization and automation. “The term supervisory control derives from the close analogy between a supervisor’s interaction with subordinate people in a human organization and a person’s interaction with intelligent automated subsystems”. A supervisor gives instructions to the subordinates who have to understand and transform them into detailed actions. The subordinates, again, present their results to the supervisor. The supervisor has to compare his goals — in analogy to the cybernetic system approach with the results presented by the subordinates.

Then he has to decide on the further action to be taken. The same sort of interaction occurs between a human supervisor and the automation. Thus, the automation can be compared to a subordinate, but with less intelligence. Five roles can be cited for the human supervisor: he has to plan, to teach, to monitor, to intervene, and to learn. To find out whether it is better to carry out a task manually or supervisory,can be used. The dashed line in the figure represents the time required for direct manual control. It is assumed that the more complex a task is, the more time it takes to carry out. The thin curve in the figure shows how much time someone needs to plan and teach a task. If the task execution time is required, a slice between the thin curve and the heavy solid curve is needed.

The sum of these two values is shown by the heavy solid curve. The heavy solid curve intersects the dashed line in two places. On the one hand, the left end of the scale demonstrates that it is better to do simple tasks on your own, because this is much quicker than to explain it to a computer or another person. On the other hand, the right end represents that very complex tasks are too hard to figure out how to program and so it is faster to do them manually. If a task is to be repeated many times and the environmental conditions do not change, it is better to program it. In this case this automation (and supervisory control) is the fastest way.

Organizational Design

In the third stage the organizational design mainly deals with the division of labor between humans. Different activity elements are combined to a whole task, which supports the motivation of the working person. The principle of the completeness of activities should have priority over principles of Taylorism and Fordism. Basic principles, which are formulated in the context of the socio-technical system approach are to be considered with the task design. Moreover, regarding the implementation of group work, important organizational design fundamentals are described.

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