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.



Mein Kollege ist ein Roboter

Jacob, Grosse, Morana & König (2023)

Die Lagerhaltung ist in vielen Unternehmen sehr arbeits- und kostenintensiv. Die Digitalisierung und Automatisierung von manuellen Lagerprozessen können die Effizienz steigern, Kosten senken und Mitarbeitende entlasten. Dabei finden kollaborative Roboter, die sich Arbeitsaufgaben mit Mitarbeitenden teilen, zunehmend Anwendung in Lagerhäusern. Der unreflektierte Einsatz solcher Roboter kann jedoch die Akzeptanz der Mensch-RoboterKollaboration negativ beeinflussen. Verschiedene Einflüsse wie Angst vor Arbeitsplatzverlust, höherer kognitiver Stress, erwarteter Mehraufwand oder die Sorge vor Verletzungen können die Zusammenarbeit zwischen Mensch und Roboter behindern und sich negativ auf den wirtschaftlichen Nutzen auswirken. Dieser Beitrag stellt mögliche Barrieren für die Akzeptanz der kollaborativen Robotik in Lagerhäusern vor und diskutiert Handlungsempfehlungen für eine menschzentrierte, nachhaltige Mensch-RoboterKollaboration.


Picking with a robot colleague: A systematic literature review and evaluation of technology acceptance in human–robot collaborative warehouses

Jacob, Grosse, Morana & Konig (2023)

Just-in-time delivery, shorter product life cycles, demographic changes, and the Covid-19 pandemic have driven the industrial application of collaborative robots in warehouses. These robots work alongside humans, increasing their productivity and relieving them of repetitive or strenuous tasks. However, human workers can be reluctant to collaborate with robots owing to certain fears; for example, they may be concerned about job loss, stress, expected effort, or risk to physical integrity. These concerns can negatively impact the acceptance of human–robot collaboration (HRC). As the literature on this topic is fragmented, this study analyzes HRC acceptance in warehouses based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. We identify, classify, and analyze studies examining HRC acceptance in warehouses using a systematic literature review methodology. A framework is established to guide the analysis of performance expectancy, effort expectancy, (perceived) occupational safety, psychosocial, and legal and privacy factors. The results indicate the importance of corporate infrastructure and consideration of cognitive factors in particular. The findings of this study will support future research on HRC in warehouses and provide guidance for managers regarding HRC applicability.


Mensch-Roboter-Zusammenarbeit in der Intralogistik: Vorteile und Auswirkungen auf die Beschäftigten

Zhang, Ludwig & Grosse (2023)

Die Kommissionierung ist eine besonders zeit- und kostenintensive Tätigkeit in der Intralogistik, vor allem wenn diese manuell ausgeführt wird. Deswegen kann es für Unternehmen wirtschaftlich interessant sein, autonome Kommissionierroboter, die mit Menschen zusammenarbeiten, in einem hybriden System einzusetzen. Dieser Artikel gibt einen Überblick über die Vorteile der Mensch-Roboter-Zusammenarbeit in der Intralogistik und quantifiziert diese exemplarisch mit Hilfe eines Simulationsmodells. Daneben werden praxisnahe Herausforderungen bei der Implementierung derartiger hybrider Systeme in Bezug auf Menschenzentrierung, Ergonomie, Technologie-Akzeptanz und wirtschaftliche Arbeitsleistung im Sinne der Industrie 5.0 beleuchtet.


Ergonomic and economic evaluation of a collaborative hybrid order picking system

Zhang, Grosse & Glock (2023)

Warehouses are important nodes in almost every supply chain. Within warehouses, order picking is a crucial task that is extremely time- and cost-intensive. While order picking systems (OPSs) have traditionally been operated manually, new technologies offer opportunities for reducing the workload of warehouse workers. These technologies include autonomous picking robots that can function in combination with human pickers within a shared workspace. This technology enables human–robot collaboration and enhances flexibility in system design, as robots can either support humans or work independently. Research on the advantages of these hybrid OPSs (HOPSs) for improving operational performance is still scarce, however. To contribute to closing this research gap, we propose an agent-based simulation model to investigate how HOPSs reduce the daily workload of human order pickers. The results reveal that HOPSs – if certain assignment rules for the picking tasks are considered – can reduce both the operational costs of the system and human workload compared to a pure manual or a fully automated OPS. Nonetheless, attention should be paid to control the item weight pickers are supposed to handle, as HOPSs reduce the travel distance of human pickers, resulting in a higher frequency of picking activities and an increased ergonomic risk for musculoskeletal disorders.


Human-centric production and logistics system design and management: transitioning from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0

Grosse, Sgarbossa, Berlin & Neumann (2023)

Industry 4.0 was presented more than a decade ago as the fourth industrial revolution, aiming to significantly raise the level of sophistication of interconnected technologies and thus increase manufacturing industries’ profits. However, because the technology-driven narrow focus of Industry 4.0 on performance and profit fails to explain how to increase prosperity for all the stakeholders involved, the European Commission has introduced the concept of Industry 5.0. This vision overcomes the weaknesses of Industry 4.0 by paying explicit attention to outcomes for humans in the system and establishing an environment to create human-centric, resilient, and sustainable systems. Considering these developments, this position paper and editorial introducing the special issue of the International Journal of Production Research elaborates on the transition from Industry 4.0 to 5.0 through 10 papers focusing on the human-centric pillar of Industry 5.0 and its impacts on production and logistics system design and management. This work presents guidance for a more systemic approach needed in future research: to include empirically grounded works and data-driven multimethod approaches that consider diversity in system operators and human factors demands holistically in order to incorporate ethical implications missing from Industry 4.0 – in the pursuit of Industry 5.0 systems.


Potential of mobile applications in human-centric production and logistics management

Zhang, Grosse & Glock (2022)

With the increasing market penetration of smart devices (smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets), various mobile applications (apps) have been developed to fulfill tasks in daily life. Recently, efforts have been made to develop apps to support human operators in industrial work. When apps installed on commercial devices are utilized, tasks that were formerly done purely manually or with the help of investment-intensive specific devices can be performed more efficiently and/or at a lower cost and with reduced errors. Despite their advantages, smart devices have limitations because embedded sensors (e.g., accelerometers) and components (e.g., cameras) are usually designed for nonindustrial use. Hence, validation experiments and case studies for industrial applications are needed to ensure the reliability of app usage. In this study, a systematic literature review was employed to identify the state of knowledge about the use of mobile apps in production and logistics management. The results show how apps can support human centricity based on the enabling technologies and components of smart devices. An outlook for future research and applications is provided, including the need for proper validation studies to ensure the diversity and reliability of apps and more research on psychosocial aspects of human-technology interaction.


Reciprocal Learning in Production and Logistics

Nixdorf, Zhang, Ansari & Grosse (2022)

Integration of AI technologies and learnable systems in production and logistics transforms the concepts of work organization and task assignments to human and machine agents. Thus, the question arises of what intelligent machines and human workers may be able to achieve as teammates. One answer may be guiding and training the workforce at the workplace to cope with emerging skill mismatches, emphasized by concepts of work-based learning. The extension of cyber-physical production systems towards becoming human-centered and social systems enabling human-machine interaction, creates opportunities for human-machine symbiosis by complementing each other's strengths. In this way, the concept of “Reciprocal Learning” (RL) between humans and intelligent machines has emerged, which is still rather ambiguous and lacks a profound knowledge base. Especially in production and logistics, literature is fragmented. Hence, the objective of this paper is to conduct a systematic literature review to elicit and cluster the knowledge base in RL represented by adjacent interdisciplinary fields of research, such as social and computer sciences. This work contributes to the literature by developing a comprehensive knowledge base on the concept of RL enabling to pursue future research directions towards the realization of human-machine symbiosis through RL in production and logistics.


Einfluss der Digitalisierung auf die Arbeitszufriedenheit in Produktion und Logistik

Winkelhaus, Glock & Grosse (2022)

Die Einführung neuer Industrie 4.0-Technologien ändert durch Automatisierung und Digitalisierung die Arbeitsplatzmerkmale in vielen Bereichen der Industrie, v. a. der Produktion und Logistik. Je nach Ausprägung und Reifegrad werden diese Veränderungen von den Beschäftigten unterschiedlich wahrgenommen und können sowohl positive als auch negative Auswirkungen auf Arbeitszufriedenheit und -motivation haben. Dieser Beitrag beleuchtet, wie sich deren Merkmale durch die Einfügung von Industrie 4.0-Technologien ändern. Daneben stellt er ein Vorgehensmodell vor, das Unternehmen als Entscheidungsunterstützung dienen kann, um wichtige Implikationen für den erfolgreichen Transformationsprozess zu berücksichtigen und die menschenzentrierte Gestaltung manueller, technisch unterstützter Arbeitsplätze zu verfolgen.


Opportunities for using eye tracking technology in manufacturing and logistics: Systematic literature review and research agenda

Zheng, Glock & Grosse (2022)
Computers & Industrial Engineering

Workers play essential roles in manufacturing and logistics. Releasing workers from routine tasks and enabling them to focus on creative, value-adding activities can enhance their performance and wellbeing, and it is also key to the successful implementation of Industry 4.0. One technology that can help identify patterns of worker-system interaction is Eye Tracking (ET), which is a non-intrusive technology for measuring human eye movements. ET can provide moment-by-moment insights into the cognitive state of the subject during task execution, which can improve our understanding of how humans behave and make decisions within complex systems. It also enables explorations of the subject’s interaction mode with the working environment. Earlier research has investigated the use of ET in manufacturing and logistics, but the literature is fragmented and has not yet been discussed in a literature review yet. This article therefore conducts a systematic literature review to explore the applications of ET, summarise its benefits, and outline future research opportunities of using ET in manufacturing and logistics. We first propose a conceptual framework to guide our study and then conduct a systematic literature search in scholarly databases, obtaining 71 relevant papers. Building on the proposed framework, we systematically review the use of ET and categorize the identified papers according to their application in manufacturing (product development, production, quality inspection) and logistics. Our results reveal that ET has several use cases in the manufacturing sector, but that its application in logistics has not been studied extensively so far. We summarize the benefits of using ET in terms of process performance, human performance, and work environment and safety, and also discuss the methodological characteristics of the ET literature as well as typical ET measures used. We conclude by illustrating future avenues for ET research in manufacturing and logistics.


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.


Mensch-Roboter-Kollaboration in der Kommissionierung

Zhang, Semar, Grosse, Winkelhaus & Glock (2021)
Zeitschrift für wirtschaftlichen Fabrikbetrieb, 116(6)

Die Kommissionierung weist in den meisten Unternehmen einen hohen Anteil an manueller Arbeit auf und ist sehr zeit- und kostenintensiv sowie fehleranfällig. Um diesen Prozess zu automatisieren, wurden autonome Roboter entwickelt. Eine modularisierte Lösung stellt die kollaborative Kommissionierung dar, welche die Vorteile der manuellen und robotergestützten Kommissionierung kombiniert. Dieser Beitrag systematisiert die kollaborative Kommissionierung und entwickelt ein Simulationsmodell, um deren Potenziale herauszustellen.


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.