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Design for Users in Rugged Environments

Trex held bya gloved hand

Flexible Device Communication in Rugged Industrial Environments

Emerson Automation Solutions had a challenge. They needed a flexible device that could be used to communicate with a myriad of field devices across all types of environments using all sorts of communication protocols. Operators needed to use it one-handed, wearing gloves, in temperature extremes ranging from the Arctic to the Tropics.

worker using a trex

The Design

M3 worked with Emerson engineering and manufacturing to create a device that suits the needs of users working in rugged environments. The design highlights a large protective bezel that provides for  single-handed operation with an easy to read display. Large hard buttons are used to easily navigate through a menu accessing the desired communication protocols.

trex- the other half

Always Remember: We're Not The User

M3 traveled the globe to interview stakeholders to determine their needs and test out user potential user interfaces. We then worked with Emerson engineering and manufacturing to help create a device that is flexible, rugged, and most importantly, easy and intuitive to use: The AMS Trex Device Communicator.

testing UI options

User Interface

The M3 design team interviewed and tested a number of wire-frame mock-ups with stakeholders. The key was to identify how the user interface could be designed for use in a variety of environments as diverse as a desk in an office environment to rugged industrial surroundings.

form factor options

Form Factors

M3 is passionate about finding the right solution for the right stakeholder. A variety of volume models were created to determine an appropriate form factor suitable for both bare-handed and gloved use. To iterate quickly, M3 sculpted dozens of volume models out of foam to evaluate how different alternatives felt in the hand.

testing usability

Tuning Use

After establishing an appropriate volume, the M3 engineering and design teams evaluated potential the sub-level components and interactions for serviceability and use. We used our in-house 3D printer to quickly mock-up and validate component placement and potential designs.

"Emerson once again redefines field communicator technology by delivering an industrial handheld that mimics a familiar consumer experience. With the Trex communicator, technicians can work more effectively in the field—with fewer tools to manage—anywhere in the plant they need to go." Duncan Schleiss Vice President Product Marketing, Emerson Process Management
rugged trex on the ground

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