Cognitive Ergonomics

Cognitive ergonomics in intralogistics

Kognitive Ergonomie
© Adobe Stock_73290220

The »Cognitive Ergonomics« project examines the psychological work characteristics of order pickers. Warehouse workers are often faced with multitasking, boredom, and deadline and performance pressure. In addition, the cognitive demands and psychological stress and strain associated with the use of different picking techniques (e.g., pick-by-voice, pick-by-light, and pick-by-vision) are be examined. The use of technical assistance systems at order picking locations is accompanied by new information processing demands and, as a result, different mental workloads compared to conventional pick lists.

The subjectively perceived mental workload is best analyzed using psychometric methods. Fraunhofer IML uses various validated survey instruments to measure monotony, multitasking or stress and strain at work.

Psychometric methods are the best way to analyze subjectively perceived mental workloads. Fraunhofer IML uses a variety of validated survey instruments to measure job stress, monotony and multitasking. In addition, psychological measurement methods are used to assess cognitive information processing and psychological stress and strain during the usage of technologies. Heart rate variability, brain waves and electrical muscle activity are indicators of psychological strain. A variety of measurement methods are used in field studies conducted in an operational context under actual workplace conditions, as well as in laboratory studies conducted under strictly controlled conditions.

As part of the research project »Center of Excellence Logistics and IT«, the Intralogistics and IT Planning department of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML is investigating »Cognitive Ergonomics« together with ergonomics specialists from the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADo). 

Further literature on cognitive ergonomics in intralogistics:


Bayhan, H.; Kaiser, P.; Kinne, S.; Kretschmer, V.; Kreyenborg, A.; Lager, H.; Mättig, B.; Virgillito, A. (2021). Dynamische Organisation: Synergieeffekte bei der Zusammenarbeit von Mensch, Technik und Organisation. Future Challenges in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, White Paper Vol. 25, Fraunhofer IML,
Kretschmer, V. (2017). Belastungsschwerpunkte von Erwerbstätigen in der Intralogistik. Sicher ist sicher - Fachzeitschrift für Sicherheitstechnik, Gesundheitsschutz und menschengerechte Arbeitsgestaltung, Vol. 12, 536-540.
Kretschmer, V.; Eichler, A.; Rinkenauer, G.; Spee, D. (2017). Focus on the human being: Cognitive Ergonomics in intralogistics. Logistics Journal: Proceedings, Vol. 2017, 1-6.
Kretschmer, V.; Spee, D. (2018). Kognitive Ergonomie. Der Mensch - eingebunden in die Logistik 4.0. München: Huss-Verlag.
Rinkenauer, G., Kretschmer, V., Kreutzfeldt, M. (2017). Kognitive Ergonomie in der Intralogistik. Future Challenges in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, White Paper Vol. 2, Fraunhofer IML,

Intralogistics in times of digitalisation

Intralogistik 4.0
© momius -

The increasing digitalisation, automatisation and dynamisation of the environment is accompanied by the use of new information and communication technologies in the operational area of intralogistics. For employees in order picking, the newly used technical assistance systems create different mental work requirements than before. The conservative method of picking lists is being replaced by new, innovative picking methods such as pick-by-light, pick-by-voice or pick-by-vision.

The integration of employees into these complex and changing work environments is a particular challenge for companies. The exchange of information between humans and technology is being examined in the »Cognitive Ergonomics« project. The mechanised picking processes can have different effects depending on the workplace environment, company organisational conditions or the personal constitution of the employees.


Book - »Cognitive ergonomics«

This book gives an overview about the collaboration between people and technology and provides an abundance from the practice of intralogistics.


Book - »Ways into the digitalised warehouse«

A overview for the digital transformation in intralogistics. The reader will be able to implement further steps, like the use of mobile devices or »pick-by-methods«.


Picking Lab

A picking warehouse of minimal size set up at Fraunhofer IML as part of the project initiative »Performance Centre Logistics and IT«. Here we evaluate picking technologies by using tools like pick list & scanner, pick-by-voice or data glasses.