Industrial and Management Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in International Encyclopedia of Ergonomics and Human Factors, ed. Waldemar Karwowski (London & New York: Taylor & Francis, 2001; Second edition, Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2006), pp. 3093–3096. Copyright © 2001, 2006 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


Digital human models in the context of this section are computer-generated representations of human beings used in computer-aided design (CAD) or similar programs. These models are increasingly being used by ergonomists and other engineers to design both equipment and work environments to meet the needs of human operators. They have the advantage of allowing the designer to explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of different design configurations without requiring the construction of expensive physical mock-ups used in the past.

Using a digital human model, design engineers can position and manipulate operators of varying anthropometry within the simulated work environment. A variety of different analyses can be performed depending on the sophistication of the computer package. Currently available analysis modules include: reach and clearances, field of vision and visual obstructions, work posture and biomechanics, metabolic energy expenditure, time and motion, and others. In addition, the ability of these models to dynamically simulate human operators within proposed engineering projects has become a popular presentation and sales tools.