Electrolux Professional: Best in class products – New ergonomic and usability tests
Innovation for real needs
User experience is one of the pillars of Electrolus Group Design strategy to deliver best in class products as well as a core competence within Professional GR&D and Design. User experience means a user centric product design approach. Ergonomics and usability drive this focus.
Usability, or ease of use, means that the people who use the product can accomplish their task in a faster and easier way. Good ergonomics help users execute the task comfortably, avoiding fatigue, injuries and physical stress. In a professional environment, this means increase productivity, reduce and/or avoid training time, improved worker safety, lower injury rates, improved users comfort and satisfaction.
“It’s also about inspiring, driving innovation and USPs. Knowledge on the users’ experience contributes to accelerate the time to market since we focus on innovations that cater for real needs,” says Cadamuro.
Through structured observations, the Professional Design team fine-tunes product usability tests to improve the user experience. Two pilot projects will help set new standards for the next generation of ovens and cut slicers.
Human factors are extremely important when operating Professional equipment as users interact with the products during many hours, several days a week, often in a very demanding environment. “In Professional we have many opportunities to get in touch with users to observe and understand their needs when they come to our Innovation Center, during field or market tests or in general when we visit them. However, the point was to make use of these opportunities in a structured way,” says Michele Cadamuro, Design Director.
The data obtained through the tests is key to prevent injuries among operators when using the equipment and thus to help customers run their business safely and more effectively.
New oven and cutter slicer
Two Professional products, the new oven generation and the new cutter slicer, were selected as pilot projects. These projects are supported by Ergocert, a well-known authority in ergonomic and usability issues, and a spin-off of the Department of Science and Biomedical technology in Udine, Italy. Ergocert has worked with Lamborghini, Trenitalia, Carrefour, Jacuzzi, Italian Ministry of Defense, among others companies and institutions.
The usability tests on ovens have been completed while the data on the cutter slicer data is being evaluated. “The preliminary conclusions about the ovens are really promising: We detected important areas for improvement in terms of ergonomics and the interface’s usability in particular. The methodology gave us also very practical ideas on how to improve or solve all critical points,” says Davide Benvenuti, Senior Industrial Designer.
Bio-mechanics in 3D
The test compared three top ovens in the market and the Electrolux Professional air-o-steam. They took place in one of the Professional’s training kitchens with 30 operators organized by experience, skills, and anthropometric characteristics.
“Together with Product Development, people from the Business Units and Chefs, we selected different key tasks for the operators. We measured time response and bio-mechanics’ stress. We also registered spontaneous comments and their instinctive actions and behaviors,” says Cadamuro.
The biomechanics of the body were analyzed using a very sophisticated wearable real time 3D body motion data system capable of simulating all critical movements through an avatar. Afterwards, all data was processed using specific software and interpreted by medical and ergonomics experts.
The procedures and definitions used come from the international usability standard ISO 9241-11. Particular attention was given to the user’s interface and specific critical tasks.