Worker assistance systems: Understanding the human perspective

 An example of an Augmented Reality headset to increase operations resilience.  Credit: Elisa Roth

Worker assistance systems are becoming increasingly intelligent, interactive and supportive. But do they have a future on the shop floor?

Mirco Möncks, Elisa Roth and Dr Thomas Bohné are all from the Cyber-Human Lab at the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (IfM). The lab focuses on how technologies can be used to augment human work and improve human performance in industry. The team share insights from a recent study on stakeholders’ perspectives on assistive technology in manufacturing. 

The future of manufacturing is often characterised by an increase in complexity, efficiency and sustainability. As the execution frequency of simple and repetitive tasks decreases, manual tasks are likely to become more complex.

Does this mean that manufacturing is inevitably heading towards full automation? It depends on who you ask.

According to our recent study, the expected degree of automation on future shop floors seems to depend on one’s position in the hierarchy of an organisation – but different to what most would intuitively expect.

We asked three groups – manufacturing executives, instructors and operators – about their perspectives on worker assistance systems to uncover their experiences, what kind of assistance systems they would find acceptable, and to what extent their experiences and views of the future aligned.

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Image: An example of an Augmented Reality headset to increase operations resilience.

Credit: Elisa Roth

Reproduced courtesy of University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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