Human Factors in Industry 4.0


The concept of Industry 4.0 has become a trend in industrial and systems engineering. While promising increased productivity and profits to companies, there has been less discussion of how the implementations of these new technologies might affect the human worker in the system. As such, there is little discussion of what the Human Factors design requirements might be.

This is a common practice in engineering design processes where human aspects are largely ignored until the implementation phase of development. At this point mismatches between human capability and system demands contribute to errors, quality shortfalls, lost productivity, accidents and injuries which ultimately compromise the health of employees and profitability of the system.


The implications derived from our research projects can open the door for the next generation of industrial systems in a digitized working environment that deliver sustainable high performance drawing the best out of the labor force – minimizing error, injury risks and operational costs.



Job satisfaction: An explorative study on work characteristics changes of employees in Intralogistics 4.0

Winkelhaus, Grosse & Glock (2022)
Journal of Business Logistics

The increasing trend toward digitalization in logistics poses a significant managerial challenge, particularly by fundamentally changing the traditional, manual workplaces in intralogistics. Although intralogistics processes have, in some cases, already been automated or are supported by smart technologies, humans remain an inevitable part of future intralogistics but with changing work characteristics. This study aims to examine the influences of the transition toward Intralogistics 4.0 on work characteristics of intralogistics employees. First, a systematic literature review on work characteristics and job satisfaction in a broader Logistics 4.0 context was conducted. Thereafter, a qualitative, explorative methodology was employed to examine the perception of work characteristics that impact job outcomes such as job satisfaction, motivation, and performance at different Intralogistics 4.0 maturity levels. The results of semi‐structured interviews conducted across seven companies demonstrated the significant, heterogeneous changes of work characteristics related to the type of technology applied in Intralogistics 4.0. Our findings indicate that the development toward Intralogistics 4.0‐implemented workplaces does not have a simple or predefined impact on humans; instead, the individual design is relevant and can improve the workplaces with more opportunities for satisfying and motivating jobs.


A Systems Framework and Approach for Analyzing Human Factors Interactions in Innovation and Industry 4.0 & 5.0

Neumann, Winkelhaus, Grosse & Glock (2021) 
21st Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association

We apply “Systems Thinking” and Human Factors principles to develop a versatile approach to considering Human Factors in innovation projects like Industry 4.0 or Industry 5.0.


Evaluation of Human Workload in a Hybrid Order Picking System

Zhang, Winkelhaus & Grosse (2021) 
17th IFAC Symposium on Information Control Problems in Manufacturing

Order picking is a labor-intensive and costly process in supply chains, which is performed manually in most cases. Recently, picking robots have been developed which are capable of working together with human pickers in a shared working space. Such hybrid order picking system can ease human pickers’ workload and provide ergonomic improvements, because it partially automates the order picking process. We propose a simulation model to measure the energy expenditure of human pickers who work with the support of picking robots. The hybrid order picking system is evaluated based on its operational costs, efficiency, and ergonomic characteristics. Preliminary results presented in this study show that there are assignment rules for items to workers and robots that reduce human energy expenditure and costs per pick, as well as maintain average throughput time at a certain level. The aim of this preliminary study is to closely analyze the hybrid order picking system, evaluate managerial implications, and detect research opportunities for future works.


Soziotechnische Systeme: Der Mensch in der Industrie 4.0 - Ein Vorgehensmodell zur Analyse

Winkelhaus, Sutter, Grosse & Morana (2021) 
Mensch in der Industrie 4.0

Die Einführung neuer Technologien im Zuge von Industrie 4.0 verspricht umfangreiche Effizienz- und Qualitätssteigerungen. Jedoch verändert die Einführung neuer Technologien auch die Arbeitsumgebung für die Beschäftigten. Wird dies vernachlässigt, kann es zu nicht antizipierten negativen Auswirkungen auf das Gesamtsystem kommen. Eine ganzheitliche Sicht auf das soziotechnische System ist notwendig, um diese Effekte bereits bei der Planung zu erkennen und negativen Effekten vorzubeugen. Hierzu wird in diesem Beitrag ein Vorgehensmodell zur Analyse der sich bei der Einführung einer neuen Technologie ergebenen Effekte vorgestellt. Mit der dargestellten Vorgehensweise ist es möglich, strukturiert den Analyseprozess zu durchlaufen und individuell Maßnahmen abzuleiten, um das soziotechnische Gesamtsystem aktiv zu gestalten.


The use of assistive devices for manual materials handling in warehouses: a systematic literature review

Glock, Grosse, Neumann & Feldman (2021) 
International Journal of Production Reserach 

This paper evaluates how technical assistive devices for manual materials handling were analysed in the literature in a warehousing context. Works that discuss the economic and/or human factors impact of assistive devices on the warehousing system or the people employed therein were identified in a systematic literature review. Building on a conceptual framework proposed in this paper, our evaluation of the literature shows which types of assistive devices were analysed in the past, and from which perspective these devices were examined. Some works studied the devices exclusively from an operator well-being or an efficiency perspective, while several works analysed the devices’ performance in terms of both dimensions. Several works contained in our literature sample highlighted trade-offs between both ergonomic and economic measures and, within the first category, between alternative ergonomic indicators, which shows that assistive devices have to be evaluated carefully in light of their intended application. The paper further identifies research gaps and emphasises the need to understand the interactions between human- and system-related variables that can be supported by assistive devices in designing effective manual materials handling systems


Industry 4.0 and the Human Factor – A Systems Framework and Analysis Methodology for Successful Development

Neumann, Winkelhaus, Grosse & Glock (2020) 
International Journal of Production Economics

The fourth industrial revolution we currently witness changes the role of humans in operations systems. Although automation and assistance technologies are becoming more prevalent in production and logistics, there is consensus that humans will remain an essential part of operations systems. Nevertheless, human factors are still underrepresented in this research stream resulting in an important research and application gap. This article first exposes this gap by presenting the results of a focused content analysis of earlier research on Industry 4.0. To contribute to closing this gap, it then develops a conceptual framework that integrates several key concepts from the human factors engineering discipline that are important in the context of Industry 4.0 and that should thus be considered in future research in this area. The framework can be used in research and development to systematically consider human factors in Industry 4.0 designs and implementations. This enables the analysis of changing demands for humans in Industry 4.0 environments and contributes towards a successful digital transformation that avoid the pitfalls of innovation performed without attention to human factors. The paper concludes with highlighting future research directions on human factors in Industry 4.0 as well as managerial implications for successful applications in practice.


Work Characteristics in Logistics 4.0: Conceptualization of a qualitative assessment in order picking

Winkelhaus & Grosse (2020)  
IFAC-PapersOnLine 53(2)

Logistics 4.0 is an emerging phenomenon, where new digital technologies are used to fulfil increasing demands of delivering individualized products against high cost pressure and fast delivery times. Within this development, human factors should not be neglected, since they will remain an important aspect of process efficiency and business success. One logistics process that has undergone a major transformation within Logistics 4.0 regarding manual human work is warehouse order picking. However, the implications of increasing digitalization on human workers in order picking are not yet fully understood. Hence, this contribution grounds on a qualitative assessment of work characteristics in order picking and conceptualizes possible influences of the digital transformation on order pickers. These conceptual interrelations enable to design future workplaces that allow higher job satisfaction, motivation, quality and performance of work as well as lower turnover intentions.


Warehousing 4.0 - Technische Lösungen und Managementkonzepte für die Lagerlogistik der Zukunft

Glock & Grosse (2017) 

Die Lagerlogistik befindet sich im Umbruch. Neue Möglichkeiten, die sich durch das Voranschreiten von Industrie 4.0 ergeben, haben unlängst Einzug in die Intralogistik und deren Prozesse gehalten. Die Potenziale der Automatisierung, Digitalisierung und Datenintegration sowie innovativer Managementkonzepte eröffnen dabei bisher ungeahnte Chancen zur Optimierung innerbetrieblicher logistischer Prozesse. Interpretiert man diese Entwicklungen und zukünftige Möglichkeiten in einem breiten Kontext, so entsteht der Begriff Warehousing 4.0. Vor allem die bisher sehr stark von manuellen Tätigkeiten geprägte Lagerlogistik profitiert von diesen spannenden Entwicklungen. Wir erleben durch das Warehousing 4.0 jedoch nicht die Abschaffung der manuellen Arbeit im Lager – vielmehr wird die Arbeit der Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter aufgewertet bzw. unterstützt und diese letztendlich entlastet. Fahrerlose Transportsysteme, die ganze Regale autonom zu den Mitarbeitern transportieren, Serviceroboter oder auch technische Assistenzsysteme, wie Datenbrillen oder Exoskelette, sind nur einige wenige Beispiele für die Möglichkeiten, die das Warehousing 4.0 Unternehmen eröffnet. Dieses Buch gibt zunächst einen Überblick über die Entwicklung der Industrie 4.0 und zeigt Potenziale auf, die sich daraus für die Lagerlogistik ergeben. Anschließend werden innovative technische Lösungen zur Automatisierung und Digitalisierung in der Lagerlogistik vorgestellt. Zudem wird aufgezeigt, wie der Mensch in der Lagerlogistik durch neue Managementkonzepte und Assistenzsysteme unterstützt werden kann. Schließlich beleuchten Best Practice-Beispiele die mögliche Umsetzung der vorgestellten Ansätze. Das Buch unterstützt dadurch vor allem Praktiker dabei, die Potenziale des Warehousing 4.0 bestmöglich kennenzulernen und umzusetzen.