Interviewer: What is your name, position/role and your institution?
Anne-Marie Oostveen: Hi i'm Anne-Marie Oostveen and i'm a research fellow at Cranfield University. I work in the industrial psychology and human factors group.
Interviewer: Can you provide a short overview of the research you have conducted?
Anne-Marie Oostveen: As part of the digitop project we developed an online survey to gather the perceptions and the experiences of 313 manufacturing employees to inform us on the acceptance and adoption of digital manufacturing technologies and the human factors that may play a part.
We address different stakeholders working within uk manufacturing companies such as operators, engineers, maintenance technicians, quality inspectors and different levels of management. Our study demonstrates that overall manufacturing employees tend to have a positive perception of digital manufacturing technologies.
When we compare the employees with actual dmt experience to non-users so those who've never worked with these new technologies we see that users are significantly more positive about usefulness and the ease of use of the technologies.
Implications from our survey data can be useful in the development of a human-centered implementation strategy for both small and medium companies that are interested in a digital transformation to increase their productivity and the competitiveness. The fact that the employees who already use these emerging technologies are overall more positive than the employees with no experience of smart manufacturing shows that there is an opportunity for those wanting to implement new systems to convince users to be of its advantages.
Personal familiarity with the technology and its benefits increases its appreciation that is why it's advisable to engage shop floor employees as early as possible in the design the development and the decision making on dmt.
Interviewer: Can you explain what the outcomes of your research mean for users/industry?
Anne-Marie Oostveen: Employees have to see the benefits to a suggested process of innovation and this could for instance be accomplished by arranging site visits to the producers. These visits will show potential adopters the capabilities of the new smart industrial technologies.
If individuals are given the opportunity to experiment with for instance robotics or with augmented reality systems then they can give meaning to an innovation and they will find out how it works which eliminates uncertainty about the whole new idea and this is what is called triability which is positively related to an innovations rate of adoption.
Site visits to producers have also other benefits workers get to voice their needs and they can describe their current working processes and this can then influence the design or the setup of the systems to be acquired. So it's important that those involved or those who are affected by new technologies start to see it as a solution to their problems and this makes them less likely to be resistant to the change.
We have also investigated technology readiness so our research found that there are several existing tools to gauge technology readiness in companies. Companies use these tools when they are estimating the feasibility and the value of implementing new technologies into the workplace.
However, these existing tools are almost completely focused on technical conditions of readiness. They determine the technical human skills needed but they do not consider the wider social cultural and psychological factors that determine workforce readiness and this is an increasingly important gap because our research has also found that working with automation and particularly with robotics does not only require technical skills but also a much greater degree of non-technical skills such as social emotional and cognitive abilities