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Operators' Perception of Comfort in Two Tractor Cabs

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 19(1): 3-18. (doi: 10.13031/2013.42539) @2013
Authors:   E. Ferrari, E. Cavallo
Keywords:   Ergonomics, Evaluation, Human interaction, Hydraulic power systems, Interface, Noise, Power take-off, Questionnaire, Visibility, Workspace

Workspace characteristics affect the perceived comfort level of the operator, and uncomfortable working conditions have been found to have a negative impact on productivity and safety. The comfort of the operator is increasingly recognized by manufacturers as a product's added value. Comfort can positively distinguish a product and increase its competitiveness. The concept of comfort is controversial, and a clear operational definition is missing. Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that comfort is a subjective phenomenon that can be evaluated by the final users. In this study, comfort aspects of the tractor workspace interior (i.e., the cab) were investigated. Users with various levels of expertise and two medium-power utility tractors of different brands were used in a 22 mixed-factorial experimental design. Participants were involved in a dynamic assessment of the cabs, and their opinions about the different workspaces were collected through a questionnaire. Additionally, objective measurements were taken on both tractors, and subjective data were compared with objective data. Results indicate significant differences in terms of the ease of locating and operating the controls (i.e., rear-mounted three-point linkage, hydraulic system, and power take-off), the ease of starting the tractor, the ease exiting the cab, the required level of concentration in executing the tasks, the adequacy of lateral visibility from the driving station, and the level of noise at the operator's position. This article provides guidance for improving the comfort of tractor workspace interiors. Agricultural machinery manufactures would benefit from research results, differentiating themselves from competitors.

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