The answer to some of the most common questions in manufacturing may not lie in typical approaches, but rather in gamification.
Gamification is the implementation of game mechanisms, strategies and visual elements in a non-game context, such as manufacturing. It may be surprising, but many of the problems that users encounter when interacting with industrial equipment are the same as those players must tackle in games.
For example: what’s the most cost-effective way of managing resources through the different stages of production? It’s a strategy game! Or, how can AGVs be faster and more efficient in moving items from point A to point B? It’s a racing game!
It’s all in your head
One area where the principles of gamification are being successfully applied is in the creation of highly interactive HMIs.
Traditionally, manufacturing processes centre on the machines and their requirements to optimise productivity, quality and profit. On the other hand, gamification processes centre on users and their interests. Games stimulate players’ attention with a combination of attractive design and highly interactive mechanisms, and the user is constantly asked to input orders and react to environmental changes.
The principles of gamification are rooted in concepts from behavioural and motivational psychology and are proven to raise users’ attention spans and alleviate cognitive fatigue. When transferred to a factory setting, this may result in higher levels of job satisfaction, improved quality of work and increased safety.
Also, according to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, more alert users are less likely to make mistakes.
For these reasons, gamification can be useful when designing HMIs for the factory floor. As with games, HMIs can offer visual and auditive feedback in response to the user’s input. The system can also reward the user with a series of points after a correct action, measure them against a set daily target, or suggest the following action after a task has been successfully completed.
Centigrade, a German design engineering company, is already offering tailored gamified software for HMIs that incorporates all of these techniques.