When the forestry industry builds up more than 4% of the GDP of Sweden, forestry machine operator has become the least favorite job in Sweden. The satisfaction of operating forestry machine is still dropping because of the intense decision making involved & the tremendous stress of the job.
In this project, we tried to increase job satisfaction, decrease stress level & flatten the learning curve of new operator via user experience & user interface design.
Team: Lukas Flynn, Borut Kerzic, Zhi Wang
My Role: Research, Ideation & Iteration of mental model, Hosting Co-Creation & Testing Workshop, Video editing.
Experience Video of LOOP
A new collection model for forwarders in forestry industry.
By repurposing log data collected by harvester machines & saw mill, the Loop plans the route for the forwarder operator and takes away the mental load of the operator. By having the system carry out planning and guidance, the operator can focus on the joyful part of the job - collecting logs.
Field Trips / Ethnographic Research
The project started with several field trips. We found that though all the operators admitted that planning & communicating with colleagues / contractors could give them higher work efficiency, most of the time they did not manage to do it because of feeling the pressure of time.
One of the biggest challenge of the machine operator is to constantly balance the motivation of the operator, the tear and wear of the machine and efficiency. As one of the Forwarder Operator mentioned below -
With the tools of User Journeys, Task Analysis, Communication Mapping, Personas... we were able to understand the flow of the system.
In order to testing out different rough concept to help the forest operator and make sure that we provide adequate, yet not overwhelming, information to the operators, we hosted several co-creation workshops to test our initial concept & iterated our concept on that.
LOOP - A New Collecting Model
No planning / communication assisting; No feedback / rewarding system; Long learning curve; Chunk of " un-engaging time during the collecting circles.
Collecting With Loop
On desired planning / communication assisting; Rewarding feedback after an operating circle; Flat learning curve; Good Flow State of Operator.
Rather than collect all the logs then drive back to the drop site, the idea is to continuously collect the logs until the cycle is complete. Once the cycle is complete, the operator can take a deserved guilt-free rest when the machine calculates the next loop.
Within this model, the cut plan is seamlessly transferred to forwarder through data collected by harvester. It cuts down the mental & planning load of the forwarders when they could enjoy operating the machine.
Less Is NOT Always More - The Epiphany Moment
The interface & collecting model that the operators are using now is a good example of LESS IS MORE. A lot of information is available, but hidden in the corner of a hamburger menu. Visually, the interface looks simple and nice. But the actual using is terrible - Operators can't waste 5 secs to access the hidden data, so they have to trust their intuition in making all the decisions.
What's the difference in designing a forestry machine interface and Instagram interface?
We found from the research that the mental model of a Professional User, like forestry operator, is very different from an ordinary user. The ability to handle complex information in a short time and make decision upon the complexity are what professional users have been training for years and what makes them professional. So within this context, we should focus more in showing as much needed information as possible & arranging those information in a dynamic way - GUI, TUI, CUI & etc... Although that may look overwhelming to we designers, who are naturally in love with simplicity, we need to bare in mind that we are not smarter than our users, especially in the users' professional field, and embrace the complexity.