With increasing digitalisation, the work content and the working environment of employees are also changing in industrial production environments. Taking into account the needs of employees and the interests of the company, the question arises how a performance-enhancing workplace design should look. In cooperation between research and industry, the research project IntAKom (Intelligent Upgrading of Manual and Partially Automated Work through the Use of Digital Communication Technology; duration: 04/2017-05/2020) is developing and testing constructive approaches to good digital assistance in production.

Objectives and approach

The objective of the project is to upgrade manual and semi-automated work systems in production through digital communication technology in order to increase the performance of employees in relation to the work task. Through the use of digital media as assistance systems, possibilities should be shown to expand and enrich work content and to promote work structuring concepts such as job rotation. In addition, employees should be more involved in the elimination of errors and malfunctions and the experience gained should be incorporated into the improvement of processes in a structured manner. The production process as a whole should become more efficient through information technology support for the employees. Specifically, errors should be avoided, quality increased, complexity managed and productivity increased. Good digital assistance for employees with value-adding activities will increase their performance and thus also that of the value-adding process.

First, the processes are examined using an interdisciplinary analysis to identify the current situation and potential for improvement. Based on these findings, specific target states are defined with regard to pre-determined quality criteria in each user company in order to subsequently develop concepts for complementary work design. The developed design measures are implemented and evaluated in pilot projects in the manufacturing environments. Finally, the developed methods as well as the findings from the project will be summarised in a manual for “good digital assistance” in order to make the project results usable for other companies.

Funding source