chapter  4
20 Pages

Model-Based Framework for In’uencing Consumer Products Conceptual Designs

This chapter seeks to address the problematic communication between design engineers on the one hand, and ergonomists on the other, during the conceptual stage of the consumer product design process. The twenty-™rst century market-driven environment, characterized by increased product differentiation, faster time-to-market, and increased safety requirements offers both a unique opportunity and a challenge. On the one hand, this market has increased the in’uence of ergonomic factors on product success. The contemporary ergonomist applies information about the human behavior, its skills, limitations, and other characteristics in the design of products, tools, machines, systems, tasks, and environment to ensure productive, safe, comfortable, and effective use by the human being (Sanders and McCormick 1993; Helander 1997). Thus, ease of use, ease of learning, high productivity, comfort, safety, and adaptability are just some of the human factors measures that have established themselves as key determinants of product market acceptance. Furthermore, this phenomenon is extending beyond the traditional consumer product sector. Such is the case with the medical device industry, where aesthetic beauty, error free and consistent control action, and devices’ intuitiveness are proving to be powerful drivers of market adoption (Medical Design Technology 2008; Wiklund and Wilcox 2005). On the other hand, however, shorter times to market are also pushing organizations to take more risks during product design. One of the greatest risks incurred is during the conceptual design stage, where a design con™guration must be selected from a short list of alternatives. The time constraint in this critical stage may result in design commitments that neglect key human factors considerations, resulting in costly design changes, delayed market introduction and, potentially, loss of market share.