Crew-Centered Design Methods Gain Prominence

Rolls-Royce's award-winning ergonomic bridge system, an example of crew-centered design (courtesy Rolls-Royce)

By MarEx 2016-09-28 21:28:41

The Nautical Institute has published a new volume for naval architects based on the CyClaDes project's crew-centered design research, which is intended to reorient vessel layouts towards day-to-day functionality, safety and crew comfort.  

"Bad ship design can kill people. It can also make working onboard difficult and resting onboard impossible. Good design can make maritime operations safer and more effective," the Nautical Institute says. "This book aims to give naval architects and ship designers, both new and experienced, an insight into how seafarers work and live on the ships they design."

The CyClaDes project is an EU-funded research venture involving Bureau Veritas, DNV, The Nautical Institute,  and a variety of universities and consultants. 

In a review of vessel layouts, the CyClaDes researchers noticed several key issues: poor access to valves; poorly laid out ladderways and walkways; and poor design of manually operated equipment. But more generally, in the course of their study they observed what they describe as a cultural problem: CyClaDes concluded that many ship designers do not have experience at sea, leaving them with a reduced understanding of routine operational needs.

The new book is one of several products which are intended to address this shortfall, and complements CyClaDes' suite of e-learning tutorials for naval architects. The tutorials include segments like "Introduction to Bad Design Principles," "Bad Design that leads to Slips, Trips and Falls," and "Bad Design in Manual Operations and Valves." 

CyClaDes' tutorials aim to address the most common errors, but more generally they are intended to instill user-centric design principles – like placing the most important and frequently used features in the most convenient locations; grouping together equipment with related functions; and putting controls, materials and equipment in line with a common sequence of operations. 

To recognize quality design based on mariners’ needs, CyClaDes partner DNV GL recently created an optional class notation for vessels which feature operator-oriented bridge systems, which can “[reduce] the risk of collision, grounding and heavy weather damage." The notation includes consideration of human operators and the human-machine interface, "which shall safeguard that the technical system is designed with due regard to human abilities." DNV also offers optional notations for vessels which meet livability, comfort and vibration standards.