An experimental investigation on the relationship between perceived assembly complexity and product design complexity

Bugra Alkan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Complexity is one of the main drivers inducing increased assembly cost, operational issues and increased lead time for product realisation, and continues to pose challenges to manual assembly operations. In the literature, assembly complexity is widely viewed from both objective and subjective perspectives. The objective perspective relates complexity directly to the characteristics of a process without accounting the characteristics of performers, whereas, subjective perspective considers complexity as a conjunction between process and performer characteristics. This article aims to investigate the link between perceived assembly complexity and product complexity by providing a prediction model relying on a series of natural experiments. In these experiments, the participants were asked to assemble a series of ball-and-stick models with varying degree of product complexity based on a clear 2D assembly work instruction. Complexity of each model was objectively estimated by considering structural properties associated with handling and insertion of assembly parts and their connectivity pattern. Moreover, perceived complexity is approached based on the subjective interpretations of the participants on the difficulty associated with the assembly operation of each model. The results showed that product complexity and assembly time is super-linearly correlated; an increase in the product complexity is accompanied with an increase in assembly time, rework rate and human errors. Moreover, a sigmoid curve is proposed for the relationship between perceived assembly complexity and product complexity indicating that human workers start to perceive assembly operation of a particular product as complex if the product complexity reaches a critical threshold which can vary among individuals with different skill sets, experience, training levels and assembly preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1157
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal on Interactive Design and Manufacturing
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Cognitive ergonomics
  • Complexity analysis
  • Human factors
  • Manual assembly
  • Perceived complexity
  • Product design

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