Pilot Study on Reach and Grocery Retail Workstations

David Ringholz and RL Grubbs

This presentation discusses the methodology and results of a pilot study conducted to measure the reach extents of a broad range of individuals, to develop, test and evaluate universally designed grocery retail workstations. The pilot study uses a two-phase, sequential mixed methods technique to obtain quantitative results from a purposeful sample and then follow up with participants to probe and explore those results in depth. Researchers selected participants that represent a wide range of variations in functional reach, stature, stamina, and mobility in order to describe and document the unique and diverse variations that emerge as participants encounter the conditions imposed by current grocery checkstands. Videotape records of participant trials were analyzed using Dartfish software, which facilitates the location and tracking of critical variables, including reach distance, participant center of mass and item location. Preliminary results indicate that workstation height affects user comfort and performance and that an optimum height can be derived through statistical analysis. Further research will be conducted to determine the relationship between fit precision and impact on the overall population. It is expected that a workstation customized to each individual would be impractical and exclusive. It would therefore be useful to develop an assessment mechanism that will enable a cost-benefit comparison between individualized fit and efficacy for a larger population.

Presentation Slides:
Slides 1-21

David Ringholz has been engaged in research and development programs that explore diversity and product interaction since 1995. His work includes application of systematic user needs assessment strategies, idea generation and evaluation methodologies, and multi-disciplinary new product development. Since his appointment as Assistant Professor in 2001 he has conducted funded research programs in environmental access and Universal Design in the home and work environments. Currently, as a project director within the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and Workplace Accommodation, he is exploring the application of Digital Human Modeling and Video Motion analysis techniques to the design development and evaluation process.

RL Grubbs has worked at the Center for Assistive Technology & Environmental Access (CATEA) since January 2003 where he is a Research Program Manager. His expertise includes qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research designs, with particular emphasis on participatory-action methods and evaluation methodologies. His current research involves the universal design of workstations and wheeled mobility products. He prepares university training and coordinates study design, tech transfer planning and recruitment of research participants. Prior to 2003, Mr. Grubbs gained valuable tech transfer experience at the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Tech Transfer at the SUNY at Buffalo, where he conducted a number of studies and assisted in the commercialization of several new assistive technology devices. In the early 1990ís, Mr. Grubbs worked on a military tech transfer project in partnership with Sandia National Laboratory, La Guna Industries and the University of New Mexico.

Presentation abstract from the 'Workplace Accommodations: State of the Science' conference
September 15-16, 2005, Altanta, GA