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Creating, Reinterpreting, Combining, Cuing: Paper Practices on the Shopfloor

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Association for Computing Machinery


Despite the advent of a flurry of digital technologies, paper prevails on manufacturing shopfloors. To understand the roles and value of paper on the shopfloor, we have studied the manufacturing practices at two state-of-the-art automotive supplier facilities, applying ethnographic fieldwork, in-depth interviews, as well as photo and document analysis. We find that paper has unique affordances that today's digital technologies cannot easily supplant on current shopfloors. More specifically, we find four paper practices: (1) creating and adapting individual information spaces, (2) reinterpreting information, (3) combining information handover with social interaction, and (4) visual cuing. We discuss these practices and the unique affordances of paper that currently support shopfloor workers and also consider the limitations of paper, which are becoming increasingly apparent, since more tasks increasingly depend on real-time information.


Heinrich, Peter; Richter, Alexander; Christensen, Lars Rune; Schwabe, Gerhard (2018): Creating, Reinterpreting, Combining, Cuing: Paper Practices on the Shopfloor. Proceedings of the 2018 ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work. DOI: 10.1145/3148330.3148341. Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 274–283. Sanibel Island, Florida, USA