AP&T Machine and Line Usability : A usability analysis of stand-alone machines and production lines at AP&T
Abstract: Automation and digitalization are developing at a high pace and it is important to keep the focus on human-machine interaction. It is becoming more and more important that the usability in machines and lines is related to the development so that the performance and availability of the production processes in the industry are not adversely affected. It is a case of designing the equipment so that users can continue to handle them intuitively and with simplicity the more complex they become. AP&T has in the last 50 years delivered world-leading production solutions for efficient sheet metal forming in the form of presses, automation solutions and press tools. Areas of focus are the automotive and climate and energy industries where they deliver solutions for products such as whitegoods, computer cases, heat exchanger plates and press hardened car parts. AP&T’s goal is to help the customer achieve the highest productivity possible and a long-term and sustainable profitability with a focus on weight reduction, safety and energy efficiency. The project aimed to facilitate for the operator, setter and maintenance technician when handling AP&T machines and lines. Running, installing, starting, and changing tools, products or materials in a machine and/or production line should be performed with simplicity. The objective of the project was to identify usability issues by analyzing the current situation from an operator, setter and maintenance technician point of view to develop a more intuitive handling of AP&T’s presses, automation and production lines. A usability development project requires frequent feedback and therefore the iterative design process was chosen. Theories regarding usability, usability inspection methods, visual communication, user interfaces and human limitations were collected and used as a focal point in analyses, and when identifying usability issues and structuring the list of priority. Methods such as observations, interviews and documentation collection were used to form a Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) for operators, setters and maintenance technicians linked to the management of the machines ODEN-FT Press, Servo Hydraulic Press, SpeedFeeder, Multi-Layer Furnace and for the press hardening line. Mapping of handling the press tool and automation grippers was also carried out, as well as a study of today's software program used as interface. The devices analyzed were operator panels, mobile panels and terminal screens along with the documentation that accompanies the purchased machine. The results of the analyses gave a list of seventeen points in need of improvements according to the users. These were areas such as screens in the user interface of the terminals, icons on the panels, and management of the tools during tools and material changes. These were first structured according to the users and then developed into a priority list structured after implementation time with the fastest improvements with the greatest effect first. At the top of this list, the user interface, operator panels and the education of operators, setters, and maintenance technicians ended up. The recommendation, which is the conclusion of this Master thesis, is to start at the top in the list of priorities when developing the identified problems. Further investigation of the issues is necessary due to the time limitation which excluded companies based in America and Asia from the evaluation. The most important recommendation for further development is to continue to utilize the users. Usability inspections are carried out, but it is important that users are allowed to continue to participate during tests and further development of solutions. It is not possible to achieve flawless usability, however, it is always possible to further develop the handling and experience of a product. It is also suggested to simultaneously connect usability with the digital development that Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things implies to be able to identify and eliminate problems as they appear.
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