Prof. Dr. Angelika Bullinger-Hoffmann
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Employee-centred design and support of human work in assembly using virtual technologies
Assembly processes are becoming more and more complex due to increasing product individualisation. Employees are faced with the challenge of having to adapt flexibly to a wide variety of workplaces and tasks. The work content is also changing from the pure assembly of mechanical components to the integration of electronic and digital components. In addition, assembly processes are being automated and employees are being provided with complex support systems. Thus, the demands on employees are changing and their cognitive demands are increasing. Pure "learning by experience" is less and less possible in such flexible structures. In order to meet these challenges, work design, the learning of work processes and work support through assistance systems are becoming increasingly important.
Aim of the research project
The aim of the VirMont research project is to use virtual technologies (Virtual Reality [VR]), especially in small and medium-sized enterprises, to involve employees in the planning of their own workplaces. A software platform is to be created with which planners and assembly workers can design new workplaces together and in 3D. The models will then be used to train the new work processes in an individual and comprehensible way. By using augmented reality (AR) glasses, the employees are later supported in carrying out their activities in the real environment by displaying virtual information, such as assembly instructions. The development of the software platform is based on existing VR and AR technologies. It is iterative and user-friendly, using surveys and practical tests to determine the needs and abilities of the users. This results in solutions that are easy to use. To design the workplaces, innovative methods are developed for ergonomic process design, for incorporating employee knowledge and for considering the usability of user interfaces for the virtual design process. All development results are scientifically accompanied and tested by the application partners.
Social added value
As a result, employees will in future be able to help design their workplace in an intuitive way using virtual reality and to train activity sequences in advance at an individual speed. In addition, employees will be supported in their work during complex work steps by the display of digital information directly on the component to be assembled. Best practice examples and concrete implementation recommendations ensure that the project results can be transferred to other sectors, such as mechanical engineering and aerospace, as well as outside of assembly, e.g. to service and commissioning activities.
All information on the project and the project partners can be found here!