Monday, 4 October 2010

Ergonomics (Test)

Ergonomics is the designing of machines and products to be used and operated by humans. The way in which the human interacts with the product is made as easy and as comfortable for the human as possible. To help achieve this, data from anthropometrics is used.

Anthropometrics is the collection of data about the human body relating to sizes, strengths and shapes. This data is used by designers and engineers to improve the ergonomics of their product. As each human is different, anthropometrics organizes its data into distributions graphs dividing the population into percentiles, with the mean being the fiftieth percentile, and the extremes being the first and hundredth percentile.

A designer should not design for the average, because by doing so they limit their market by a great deal. By designing a product so that it is suitable for a wide range of percentiles, eg, 5-90%, the designer opens up the number of people who could buy the product enormously.

Sources of anthropometric data include “The measure of man and women” by Alvin R. Tilley and Henry Dreyfuss; and the British Standards Institute’s anthropometric charts.

Key ergonomic factors for the designer.

Predicting how humans interact with their surroundings can be done quantitatively, where statistical data about the body shape of humans and workload is used to design the product. It can also be done qualitatively, where the feelings of the user in terms of comfort and satisfaction are taken into consideration.

To cater for the wide range of human sizes, a designer can take one of four approaches. They could make a design that is applicable for everyone, such as a lift that is big enough for a wheelchair and large people. Or they could produce a range of different sizes for their design, with a specific size for small percentages of the population. They can also design a product which has built in adaptabilty, such as a desk chair, which the user can adjust to their preference. Lastly, they could design accessories to the product which aid its use by differently sized people.
The target market group (TMG) is that group of people who will or are expected to be using the product. The designer should consider this and how it effects the anthropometric data to ensure that the product is suitable. For example, if a product is to be used only by men, then their greater average size and strength should be taken into account.