CONTEXT

The WAP-4 is the workhorse of the Indian Railways Passenger Division. The Pilot's cabin and the control panel have stayed the same since the launch of the WAP-4 locomotive and an overhaul was commissioned in 2010. An improved control panel was necessary to lower the learning curve for new pilots and co-pilots as well as to reduce the operation fatigue on extended segments.

INSIGHT

IDEA

As the roles and corresponding duties of the pilot and co-pilot evolved over the years in tune with developments to the overall system, the control panel stayed the same. Through in-depth field research, usability issues, deterrents of efficiency and opportunities for improvement were identified in the realms of physical, spatial and cognitive ergonomics. 

New layouts of the control panel were envisioned, prototyped and tested to facilitate a streamlined workflow of operations in a sequential order. Cabin space was redesigned to accommodate specific needs pertaining to the operational tasks of both the pilot and the co-pilot.

IMPACT

The redesigned control panel reduced operational fatigue by 15% and slashed the emergency reaction time by a factor of two. Usability testing was conducted by the Indian Railways Pilot Training department using both pilots and co-pilots in the training simulator at the Vadodara facility of the Western Railways Division.

TEAM

Emil Alex

Mihir Laghate

Prateek Upreti

MY ROLE

User Researcher

Interaction Designer

Physical Prototyping Lead

TOOLS AND METHODOLOGIES

Field Research / Crew Interviews / Footplate Trips / Contextual Inquiry / Ergonomic Analysis / Task Analysis  / Rapid Prototyping / User Testing / CAD 

LOMOTIVE CONTROL PANEL 

FOR WAP-4 ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE

ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE DIVISION (INDIAN RAILWAYS)

THE CHALLENGE

Introduced in 1994, the WAP-4 has become the mainstay passenger locomotive of the Indian Railways. However, the controls panels and the pilot's cabin provide less than ideal working conditions for the pilot and co-pilot. The project was initiated as an effort by the Indian Railways and the National Institute of Design to redesign the pilot's operational experience of the locomotive.
 
 

THE CONTEXT

SCOPING THE AREAS OF WORK
PROJECT OBJECTIVES
UNDERSTANDING THE FUNCTIONING OF THE LOCOMOTIVE IN A TRAINING SIMULATOR
PLOTTING THE PILOT AND CO-PILOT'S OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
IDENTIFYING LATENT NEEDS   THROUGH FOOTPLATE JOURNEYS
ANALYSIS OF THE COGNITIVE, PHYSICAL AND SPATIAL ELEMENTS INVOLVED
IDENTIFYING HUMAN FACTORS THROUGH TASK ANALYSIS
ESTABLISHING A DESIGN DIRECTION FOR THE PROJECT
FULL SCALE MOCKUPS ALONG WITH ITERATIVE IMPROVEMENTS
RECORDING RESULTS FROM USER TESTING AND ADDITIONAL FEEDBACK
DETAILED SCALE MODEL OF THE FINAL CONCEPT PROPOSAL

THE SYSTEM

MAPPING THE EXISTING SYSTEM
FULL SCALE MOCK UP DESIGNED TO TEST USABILITY AND PHYSICAL LAYOUT OF CONTROLS WITHIN THE PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND TERTIARY REACH ZONES.
MULTIPLE USERS ACROSS A RANGE OF PERCENTILE MEASUREMENTS WERE INCLUDED IN THE TESTSS IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE FOR THE VARIATIONS IN PILOTS AND COPILOTS ACROSS THE OVERALL REGIONS OF OPERATION
  • 1:6 Scale model of the Locomotive Cabin Control Panel.

  • Redesigned controls, indicators, seating and storage sections