Anthropometry-based Sustainable Design for Multiple Global Populations

Open Access
Nadadur, Gopal
Graduate Program:
Mechanical Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 03, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Matthew B Parkinson, Dissertation Advisor
  • Matthew B Parkinson, Committee Chair
  • Timothy William Simpson, Committee Member
  • Jeremy J Michalek, Special Member
  • Arvind Rangaswamy, Committee Member
  • Ling Rothrock, Committee Member
  • Karen Ann Thole, Committee Member
  • Anthropometry
  • Global Design
  • User Populations
  • Design Strategies
  • Design for Human Variability
  • Sustainable Design
This dissertation research had the broad objective of enabling more widespread application of the principles of anthropometry- (i.e., body dimension-) based design. The more specific goals were: a) to allow for the use of easily- and widely- available body dimensional information in the form of descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations, and/or by-percentile values of anthropometry), b) to more objectively compare the variation of relevant body measures across the populations of interest, c) to utilize observations from these comparisons in guiding the selection of appropriate strategies for top-down global product design, and d) to implement virtual fitting techniques and provide specific design recommendations within the framework of the selected strategy. The anthropometry-based global design (AGD) methodology was formulated to satisfy these goals. It consists of three phases. Phase A focuses on anthropometry synthesis using the existing regression-based approach and the newly-developed percentile combinations datasets (PCD) method. The main strength of the PCD method is in its ability to use descriptive statistics as inputs in accurately ``reverse engineering'' the underlying anthropometric database. The ability to synthesize such comprehensive databases enables better utilization of numerous papers and reports that provide descriptive statistical information for a variety of populations; this allows for more thorough, multivariate anthropometric analyses through the use of detailed data. Phase B of the AGD methodology involves the application of the newly-developed anthropometry range metric (ARM) in assessing anthropometric variation across the populations of interest. This variation is studied for each relevant body measure between the 1st and 99th percentiles, and results in the categorization of the body measure into regions of low, medium, and high variability. Guidelines are then proposed for the selection of the most suitable technique---sizing, adjustability-allocation, etc.---for the satisfaction of the usage requirements related to that body measure. The guidelines also include suggestions on when to consider incorporating components related to the body measure into a platform, when to build them into modules, and when to offer them as unique variants. The selection of the aforementioned techniques is based on the global product design strategy that is chosen as the overarching framework for the top-down design of the new product line. Three strategies are proposed in this research. Non-platformed design involves the creation of a separate design for each group of target markets or user populations. Static platform design entails the development of the product line around a common platform that remains unchanged across the populations of interest. Flexible platform design is aimed at making the platform itself adaptable to the requirements of different population groups; this capability also allows for easier modifications to satisfy temporal changes in requirements. Phase C of the AGD methodology involves the application of the techniques selected in Phase B. This yields design recommendations that are likely to achieve the desired performance objectives for the populations of interest. The proposed methodology is then demonstrated in two case studies, the first of which involves the design of a wheelchair for populations that are largely from the developing world. The second case study is an exploration into three sustainability benefits---increasing raw material allocation efficiency, lengthening the lifetimes of certain kinds of products, and better considering some ethical ramifications of design decision---that could accrue from the application of the AGD method for multiple user populations.