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The MANPRINT Program

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Human Factors Engineering (HFE)

Human Factors Engineering Icon
The integration of human characteristics into system definition, design, development and evaluation to optimize human-machine performance under operational conditions.

To ensure operational effectiveness, a comprehensive technical effort must be made to integrate human factors qualitative and quantitative information into system design, testing and acquisition. Such information includes:

  • human characteristics
  • operator/maintainer capability requirements
  • soldier performance data
  • system interface requirements
  • biomedical factors
  • safety factors
  • training factors
  • manning implication
Goals of Human Factors Engineering
  • Make equipment easier to operate, maintain and support
  • Reduce the time to accomplish a task
  • Reduce the chance for operator error and accident
  • Reduce the amount of operator training
  • Reduce need for selection of operators with special background or capabilities
  • Note 1: Make sure human factors engineering topics are addressed in the:
  • Mission Needs Statement
  • Operational Requirements Document
  • Contract Statement of Work
  • Testing and Evaluation plans
  • Note 2: The soldier cannot always adapt to design inadequacies. Has a user or user’s representative been an active participant in concept development, system design and test planning?
  • Note 3: Equipment performance requirements cannot be considered independent of human performance requirements and capabilities. The total system design includes hardware/software and leaders/users, operators, maintainers and support personnel.
Organization Design (see Key Document 1)
  • Obtain essential information
    1. Mission statements for organization in which the weapon system/equipment is used
    2. Mission statements for parent organization and subordinate organizations
    3. Lists of Battlefield Functions (Key Documents 2 and 3) that must be performed to execute the missions
    4. Required Capabilities
    5. Organizational wiring diagrams (chains of command)
    6. Job and job task descriptions
  • Develop Preliminary Analysis (or Check) of Total System Functions for Achieving Required Capabilities (see Key Document 4)
  • Check for:
    1. Consistency of missions and Battlefield Functions
    2. Completeness of Total System functions specifications and Battlefield Functions
    3. Consistency of responsibilities and authorities
    4. Appropriateness of span of control
    5. Adequacy of lines of communication
      • internal
      • external
    6. Issues in formation and maintenance of trust/cohesion within the organization (see Key Document 5)
    7. Adequacy of provision for supplies (internal and external support)
  • Allocate Total System Functions to Man or Machine (see Key Document 4):
    1. Human operators
    2. Equipment
    3. Human Maintainers
    4. Embedded fault detection and diagnostics
Job-task performance data
  • Obtain data from:
    1. Checklists
    2. Interviews
    3. Questionnaires
    4. SME observations and ratings
    5. Direct performance measures
    6. Video (time & motion studies)
  • Number of tasks attempted and completed
  • Time to perform
  • Accuracy
    1. Number or proportion of successfully completed tasks
    2. Human reliability: Consider sources of human error:
      • Inadequate aptitude: too difficult for selected personnel (e.g., too many steps)
      • Inadequate training
      • Equipment configuration induces error
      • Environmental conditions induce human error
      • Eliminate through design typical sources of human error
Reasons tasks were not completed
  • Insufficient manpower
  • Inadequate aptitudes
  • Poor training
  • Poor human factors design
  • Lack of, or poor job performance aids
  • Lack of feedback devices
Task description & analysis
  • Task criticality, frequency of task, learning difficulty, decay rate
  • "High driver" tasks
  • Information flow analysis
  • Task allocation analysis
    1. Soldier
    2. Soldier and machine
    3. Machine
    4. Manual override of specific functions considered?
    5. Sequence of operational instructions
    6. Task-interdependence of crew members
  • Workload analysis
    1. Mental workload:
      • Information processing demands
      • Memory requirements
      • Learning and retention requirements
      • Sensory discrimination requirements
    2. Physical Workload demands:
      • Task overload
      • Biomedical considerations
      • Strength and endurance considerations
    3. How will degraded manning affect performance?
    4. Is the number of soldiers planned to perform various critical tasks required by the system sufficient to meet the system performance requirements?
  • Psychomotor requirements
  • Task environment
  • Maintenance, ease of: does system require major dismantling for access to frequently replaced components? Are built-in self-diagnostics feasible?
Equipment and Workspace Design
  • Crew interfaces
  • Human-computer interface
  • Interface compatibility with the capabilities/characteristics of the target audience
  • Usability (as judged by the test players via questionnaires, or exhibited in behaviors). Poor interface design or poor training could be reflected by:
    1. Repetition of task steps
    2. Increase in error rates
    3. Excessive use of on-line help or system documentation
    4. Requests for assistance
    5. Verbal/non-verbal complaints
  • Ergonomic considerations
  • Anthropometric data
Stress
  • Heat stress
  • Psychological stress
  • Continuous operations
  • Fatigue
  • Isolation
  • Crowding
  • Will battle stress degrade performance?
  • NBC conditions: Can the operator perform all required tasks in the prescribed manner while wearing MOPP or other special equipment?

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