A common belief amongst ships designers is that a Human Factors contribution belongs to the Detailed Design and Interior Design phase of the project. This is true for subjects like furniture design, chair selection or wayfinding, However, Human Factors contribution is usually more effective in earlier design phases, like a feasibility study (resulting in a Building Specification and General Arrangement) and Basic Design phase.
Some examples are:
- Crew plan and operational philosophy
As soon the functionality of the ship is defined, the crews tasks and jobs can be developed as well – and subsequently – the required amount, size and arrangement of work areas. Although a proper crew plan should be a starting point of the vessels design process, it is often postponed to the detailed design phase: too late to incorporate any of the results in the Building Specifications.
- Functional area arrangement
Crew members spend a significant amount of time by walking from one task area to another, specifically on large ships. This effect can be reduced by a task-analysis based accommodation arrangement, resulting in well-thought positions for cabins, offices, stores and recreational spaces.
It is beneficial to have these items already covered in the Basic Design phase, since it may also affect structural issues, like the position of stairways, elevators, cable ducts and pillars.
- Bridge contour definition in 3D
Until the Detailed Design phase, many ship design plans are based on 2D drawings only. An optimized bridge contour and layout require a full 3D field-of-vision study, for which a 3D model of the ship situated in its working environment is crucial.