Throughout our many years in operation, we have measured people in quite a few unique locations (you can read about some of those here). Today, we want to share the details of a project that isn’t for the seasick. In 2001, we took on a project where we measured people who were riding back and forth on a ferry boat. Why, you ask? Because this particular ferry boat was full of the type of people we needed to measure: European truck drivers.
In 2001, Sears Seating, a division of Sears Manufacturing Company, hired Anthrotech to complete an anthropometric survey of U.S. truck drivers specifically for the improvement of seat fit and comfort. While that project was successful, we determined that the European market of truck drivers might have significantly different measurements. Therefore, a new collection of data was necessary, and once again in 2006, Anthrotech was hired by Sears Seating to help with a new study on European drivers.
How Anthrotech Helped
When conducting studies with very specific populations, selecting the right location is key to successfully meeting our sampling goals. Sometimes clients provide people for us to measure, but in this case, we had to recruit our own subjects. With the help of our client, we determined that the peerless location of the English Channel was best. You see, trucks between mainland Europe and Britain cross the channel on a ferry, so on any given crossing there are quite a few truck drivers with not much to do until they reach the other shore. Sears Seating worked with the ferry operator to allow us to set up a location on the ferry to complete measurements.
In order to encourage workers to take part in our study, we offered coupons for meals on the ferry. As a result, the ferry canteen was getting more business and we were getting ample people to measure – a win win! For this particular project, we brought on an interpreter who spoke six different languages so we could adequately communicate with our test subjects, most of which were from eastern European countries such as Poland, Russia the Czech Republic and more.
The dimensions we measured were selected to represent those needed for truck seat design and cab design. The focus was on the external dimensions of the seated operator, but stature and weight were also measured to provide a comparison with the original U.S. database. The dimension list included:
- Arm Reach Down
- Bideltoid Breadth
- Buttock-Popliteal Length
- Elbow Rest Height
- Forearm-Forearm Breadth
- Hip Breadth, Sitting
- Popliteal Height
- Popliteal Reference Length
- Shoulder Height, Sitting
- Sitting Height
- Sitting Height to Reference
- Stomach Breadth, Sitting
- Stomach Depth, Sitting
- Thigh Clearance (to Reference)
In total, we measured 191 males and 5 females for this study. We determined that, indeed, there were differences between U.S. and European drivers. Overall, U.S. drivers are larger – about two-thirds of an inch taller, but more than 17 pounds heavier. The weight is also distributed differently – on average, U.S. drivers are more than two inches larger in stomach depth, which is a larger difference than one would think with only a 17-pound weight difference.
One interesting thing we found was that European drivers are larger than U.S. drivers in the forearm and forearm breadth measurements. Mercedes-Benz trucks were the most popular at the time in Europe, and those trucks had larger steering wheels than other trucks on the road. It may be that turning those big steering wheels increased the muscle mass of the drivers, resulting in larger forearms.
As hoped, this study was able to accurately compare the anthropometric data of European truck drivers to U.S. truck drivers, identifying those areas where seats should be designed differently. As a result, our client was able to refine its seat design for the European market, making their seats both more comfortable and more competitive.