Taking a human-centred approach - Guides for ship designers and equipment manufacturers

The popular impression of the Human Element emphasises competence and leadership. These alone are not sufficient. We also need usable ships and systems.

Usability
The popular impression of the Human Element emphasises competence and leadership. These alone are not sufficient. We also need usable ships and systems:
• Getting the design right is a one-time activity. Training and competence to compensate for a bad design are a continuing commitment
• A usable design provides support when it is most needed, e.g. when fatigued or under stress
• Usable equipment can dramatically reduce training requirements - potentially to ‘walk up and use’
• The state of the art is such that cheap, simple design changes can have a significant reduction in human error potential.
Usability is particularly important when introducing new technology and functions. It provides support to the seafarer performing an unfamiliar task, particularly in situations where operational use precedes training delivery.
Usability is a result of taking a human- centred approach to design. Lloyd’s Register has produced Human-Centred Approach Best Practice Guides (based on International Standards) to help shipyards, equipment manufacturers and Class.

Human-Centred Design (HCD)
The principles of HCD are:
• A clear and explicit understanding of users, tasks and environments (context of use)
• The involvement of users throughout design and development
• Iteration
• Designing for the user experience
• User centred evaluation
• Multi- disciplinary skills and perspectives
Applying these principles requires strategic and managerial, as well technical, changes in an organisation. The Guides describe a staged approach to HCD and enable planning and implementation of an achievable improvement programme with respect to HCD.

The Guides
The activities set out in the Ship Design Guide are shown in the Figure above. Corporate strategy has activities that align HCD and corporate objectives, and provide the necessary high-level support. The next level is concerned with business management; activities are grouped under well-known functions. At a technical level, the integration of HCD into a project is shown as a single set of activities, since it is likely to be resourced by very small numbers of people. The technical implementation of HCD is split up by technical specialist disciplines.
The structure of the Equipment Manufacturers Guide is similar to that for yards, but with two essential differences at management level:
• The need for product support beyond a guarantee period, with a more extended lifecycle, and
less organizational partitioning between stages.

The likelihood of a greater emphasis on risk management.

At a technical level, the differences reflect the technical specialisms involved.

In conclusion

Shipyards and manufacturers do not benefit directly from usability in the way that a ship operator does. These Guides help to reward efforts made, and to provide incentives to those who are in the early stages of addressing usability. By concentrating on processes within design and manufacturing organizations, they can simplify and promote usage and uptake of good practice. Given this background the aim of the Guides is to offer a scale of benefits to yards and manufactures, and provide assistance with making simple improvements from a basic starting position. Engaging the user community is also an aid to technical innovation. Many major companies in other sectors find that their best ideas come from their users.

For further information go to: www.webstore.lr.org