Getting close to your end customer – industrial ethnography

A global manufacturing company came to us seeking a complete understanding of attitudes and behaviours surrounding Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in the metal fabrication industry. They needed not only to engage with safety managers and metal workers, but also to gain a first-hand understanding of the conditions they worked in, how workers interacted, worked with and stored their PPE, and ultimately appreciate attitudes and behaviours towards safety equipment. 

Through visits to metal working companies (foundries, shipyards, steelworks), we filmed interviews with safety managers, observed work and behaviours on the shop floor, and interviewed workers in-situ. This ethnographic approach allowed us to witness first-hand behaviours that would otherwise have gone overlooked. We captured the true attitudes of the workers, and their needs in this challenging environment. 

Our video ethnographic approach provided real breakthroughs in understanding at all levels of the organisation, enabling focused creativity in product design. They described our outputs as “the best use of video ethnography we have ever seen.”