Tobii Pro Insight
visual tracking identifies safety and training gaps

IOT: New Eye Tracking Research Tackles Safety and Performance in Manufacturing

Nov. 16, 2017
To reduce training time and improve worker safety in the high-risk environment of industrial manufacturing, research consultants from Tobii Pro Insight conducted an eye tracking study at the metal foundry of H&H Castings.

The results of a new eye-tracking study, designed to understand how visual concentration impacts worker safety and performance in a high-risk, dangerous job, revealed unique insights for reducing the risk of accidents, creating new efficiencies in the foundry’s operations and improving how new hires are trained. The attention-based study will contribute to the quicker on-boarding of new workers, new training guidelines and the reduced risk of accidents.

“Eye tracking certainly opened our eyes to the true impact that visual attention plays in a foundry,” said Jacob Hammill, system manager of H&H Castings. “When you are working with molten metal, it’s difficult to get up close and observe how a task is being conducted. Eye tracking can bridge that gap to give our new hires a whole new understanding of the process. Consultants from Tobii Pro Insight helped us identify unique visual skills that we can now build a training program around.”

H&H Castings trains a new employee or temporary worker in the melt department twice a month on average, as it’s one of the most demanding, and subsequently, most volatile positions in the factory. The average training time is a week.

“We hope the eye tracking video will save us two days per employee. Ideally, this would save us 400 hours of training time per year in that department,” said Hammill.

The workers recruited to participate in the qualitative study wore eye tracking glasses for 15-30 minutes as they completed their tasks in the foundry. The study found that the work requires an extreme amount of concentration and focus; any sudden break in that concentration could have a disastrous effect on how workers poured liquid metal into casting molds. The eye trackers provided a close-up supervision of how this process was conducted through the eyes of experienced workers.

This video that was created now can be shown to workers as part of the training process, and the analysis of the attention data revealed steps that can be taken to make the entire metal pouring process safer and more efficient.

“With the attention data, we were able to help H&H Castings understand behaviors that are intuitive to a skilled performer but difficult to articulate to the novice,” said Mike Bartels, senior research director, Tobii Pro Insight. “We could also identify what is happening immediately before an error on the line occurs that would negatively impact efficiency.”

“We live life visually and through eye tracking we can produce a reliable barometer of processes, training and cognitive load,” said Tom Englund, president of Tobii Pro. “Our research consultants can apply the same eye tracking methodology to any business to ascertain the unique processes and skills needed for a more productive and safe work environment.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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