Forming a view: a human factors case study of augmented reality collaboration in assembly

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Industry 4.0 technology is promoted as improving manufacturing flexibility, and competitiveness; though Australia has been slow to adopt. The Australian Navy shipbuilding program provides opportunities for accelerating technology adoption, revitalising manufacturing productivity and competitiveness. Adopting a sociotechnical systems lens, our research sought to identify usability, workload, and user experience of an augmented reality head-mounted display (AR-HMD) deployed to complete multiple work tasks in a workflow (electrical assembly, collaborative robot (cobot) mediated inspection, and remote troubleshooting using video call). Usability was rated ‘average’ (System Usability Scale mean = 69.8) and workload ‘acceptable’ (NASA Task Load Index mean = 25.8) for the AR-HMD alone, with usability of the integrated work system (IWS) rated ‘good’ (SUS mean = 79.2). Results suggest software interfaces, tracking, and gesturing methods for the AR-HMD require improvement. This trial shows the AR-HMD provides a versatile platform for integrating multiple digital technologies without hindering effectiveness of end-user performance, potentially benefiting productivity and quality.

Practitioner Summary:
Using an augmented reality head-mounted display (AR-HMD) to reduce and correct errors in electrical assembly identified factors influencing technology adoption in shipbuilding. Mental workload, interface design, tracking, and gesturing most hindered successful performance. AR-HMDs can facilitate the use of more complex integrated technologies (i.e. cobot), improving usability and acceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Early online date15 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2024


  • Augmented reality
  • head-mounted display
  • usability
  • collaboration
  • sociotechnical system


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