AHO Logo


Human-Centered, Collaborative, Field-Driven Ship Design: Implementing Field Studies for the Design of Ships in Operation

Current ship design processes have two main problems. First, the experiences of crew who operate ships are not included in the design process. This poses a problem because it limits the ability of ship designers to design ships and ship systems that can be safely and efficiently operated by the ship crew. This is important because design failures can lead to major accidents and inefficient operations. Second, collaboration between the different designers who participate in the process is not facilitated. This is a problem because it limits the ability of the participants to work across their respective disciplines. This is especially important in a complex and multidisciplinary process such as ship design.

Human-centred design methods can help address these two problems. Coming from the traditions of human factors and ergonomics, industrial, and interaction design, these methods deal with the participation and collaboration of all users of a design process. In particular, ethnography-based methods such as field study observation and analysis can inform the design of ships from the perspective of how ship crew operate them. Such a human-centred perspective contrasts with the technology-centred perspective that dominates the maritime industry. The objective of this research is to introduce human-centred methods that are collaborative and field-driven, to be used by industrial and interaction designers, maritime engineers, and human factors and ergonomics experts in ship design processes.

To integrate these methods, I work with the experimental introduction of human-centred methods in actual cases of ship design processes. I analyse the results in terms of what design activities were performed in the cases, and how they contributed to the ship design processes. To structure the analysis, I study the design activities that designers engage with during the design process. This experimental introduction of human-centred, collaborative, field-driven design methods in ship design processes results in the proposition of a design process that combines the human- and technology-centred perspectives and can be used for the design of ships and ship systems.

In addition, I propose a framework that guides the collaboration of maritime engineers, human factors and ergonomics experts, and industrial and interaction designers. These different types of designers have different design goals, specialisation and skills. Specifically, they have a different command and understanding of human-centred design methods. The proposed framework helps connecting different ways to work with human-centred design. It also helps connecting them with technology-centred design activities and data.

When experiencing and designing from the perspective of ship crew, ship designers can improve their ability to design ships and ship systems that are safe and efficient to operate. Further, the introduction of a human-centred perspective on ship operations gives ship designers the opportunity to focus on their own experience during the design process and improve how they collaborate with each other. As a result, the proposed process and framework have the potential to improve both the design process and its outcome.

Access thesis here.

Gernez, E.(2019). Human-Centered, Collaborative, Field-Driven Ship Design: Implementing Field Studies for the Design of Ships in Operation. Oslo School of Architecture and Design Available: http://hdl.handle.net/11250/2608505