ProdUSER – User-friendly interaction concepts for production settings in the context of demographic change

The production sector is the main contributor to the current economic upswing in Germany. Its success is based on the high mechanization, especially in the producing and manufacturing industries. Furthermore, it relies on the competence and know-how of its personnel. The labor market changes dramatically due to the demographic change. To remain competitive, German businesses have to face the changing conditions and create working contexts that allow them to keep their edge, based on their self-developed know-how and high quality performance, despite the changing labor market. This includes measures to prevent the loss of know-how due to retiring staff, as well as working conditions that take into account the longer retention times of employees due to the increased statutory retirement age, changing occupational biographies, and the employment of foreign specialists to cover the staffing requirements. Further challenges relate to faster business and process transactions and the devaluation of specialist knowledge based on its “half-life period.”

The continued existence and growth of German production companies relies on their technical know-how on how to use state-of-the-art technologies. They have to depend on innovative processes and equipment to prevail in international competition. This includes expensive digitalized and automated production designs, usually operated through high performance software. In practice it was revealed that long training periods were necessary, despite highly contemporary technologies. Employees were unable to cope with the complexity of the software tools. Users were unprepared overwhelmed by the multitude of systems and functions as the user interfaces were not designed based on the end-users’ requirements. Ramifications of this possible overextension are bad work results that, in manufacturing, lead to delivery delays, waste of resources, and diminished product quality.

The objective of the scientific feasibility analysis “prodUSER” is the development of a future-oriented overall concept for the redesign of user interfaces in computer-assisted production planning systems. This project requires the close cooperation between the participating research facilities and the industrial advisors of the project committee. In the past five decades, interaction systems have become increasingly complex to fulfill their intended tasks. The goal of this project is to optimize the user-friendliness of these interaction systems based on previously as well as newly within this project established standards. The results will have three parts: (1) a vision of human-technology-interaction in production settings of the future, (2) a concept of demographically adapted jobs and working stations based on that vision, and (3) a roadmap of its implementation.

Project information:


Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Programm: Wissenschaftliche Vorprojekte zur Mensch-Technik-Interaktion für den demografischen Wandel

Funding sum:

275.000 Euro

Funding period:

Oktober 2014-September 2015


Simon Himmel, M.A.

Dipl.-Psych. Wiktoria Wilkowska

Project partners:

  • Professur für Textlinguistik und Technikkommunikation
  • Lehrstuhl für Medieninformatik
  • Fraunhofer Institut für Produktionstechnologie IPT
    Abteilung CAx Technologien - Prof. Dr. Fritz Klocke
    Abteilung Technologiemanagement - Prof. Dr. G. Schuh