Principal investigator: Ling Rothrock, Christopher McComb, Matthew Parkinson

University: The Pennsylvania State University

Industry partners: Mack Trucks, Inc.

The purpose of the research is to address errors related to lack of attention and forgetfulness in the VEH1-Finish operations area. Four tasks will be accomplished.

  1. Establish error baselines: While it would be ideal if we could eliminate human error, the realistic solution is to reduce errors according to realistic human error probabilities for the assembly area. We will perform a Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) to understand workers have to accomplish, and will interview plant experts to conduct a fault tree analysis to establish expectations for human errors.
  2. Develop event map associating Skills-Rules-Knowledge (SRK) levels to errors, and link the map to the HTA: Lack of attention and forgetfulness errors, such as those identified through Mack’s initial HERCA, can manifest themselves at multiple levels of the SRK framework. By further specifying the type of error, we can have better insight into an error mitigation strategy.
  3. Develop a situation awareness model: Tasks three and four address performance-shaping factors that are tied to the context of Lehigh Valley Mack Trucks plant. An understanding of a worker’s situation awareness in the assembly area can provide valuable insight into why an error was committed.
  4. Develop a model to associate physiological states with mental workload: This task leverages the work that is being done in a separate project with the Center for E-Design. The project examines the effectiveness of a portable mental workload device, which includes electroencephalograms (EEG), galvanic skin response (GSR) monitor, eye tracker, and a heart monitor to assess heart-rate variability. The purpose of using physiological monitors at Mack Trucks is to assess the relationship between workload and errors.

We plan to heavily involve undergraduate and graduate students in the project, particularly on tasks that are conducted at Mack Trucks.