Abstract

Level of automation (LoA) is increasingly recognized as an important principle in improving manufacturing strategies. However, many automation decisions are made without formally assessing LoA and can be made based on a host of organizational factors, like varied mental models used by managers in decision-making. In this study, respondents (N = 186) were asked to watch five different assembly tasks being completed in an automotive manufacturing environment, and then identify “how automated” or “how manual” they perceived the task to be. Responses were given using a visual analogue scale (VAS) and sliding scale, where possible responses ranged from 0 (totally manual) to 100 (totally automated). The activity explored how and when individuals recognized the automated technologies being employed in each task. The tasks of the videos varied primarily by whether the human played active or passive role in the process. Focus group comments collected as a part of the study show how rating patterns revealed functional systems-level thinking and a focus on cognitive automation in manufacturing. While the video ratings generally followed the LoA framework discussed, slight departures in the rating of each video were found.

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