AUTOMATIC INSTALLATION PROCESS ANALYSIS AND DOCUMENTATION
Founded By: POR FESR 2014-2020
Start date: 3 Aug. 2019 End date: 1 Feb. 2021
Grant: € 374.182,30
Partners: BFT SpA, NegroponteLab Srl, Università Ca’ Foscari, Solmec SpA
Sponsor: BFT SpA of Human Inspired Technology (HIT) Research Centre (University of Padova)
HTLab Involved People: Michele Mingardi, Valeria Orso, Luciano Gamberini
The AIPAD project aimed to innovate the installation processes of advanced automation systems, such as gate automation systems. Specifically, the goal of AIPAD was to maximize the effectiveness and flexibility of these processes, using digitalization as a key tool to provide continuous support to the installer. This support would guide the installer through the necessary actions and help them resolve ambiguous situations. Additionally, it would facilitate structured communication with first-level support or the technical office.
To achieve these objectives, the HIT team observed how installation processes unfolded in the field, investigating the main challenges faced by operators. The entire installation process was recorded on video, encoded, and analyzed to identify and extract the required steps and sub-steps. These data guided the design of an application that would allow operators easy access to the learning materials. Each step was “translated” into a specific language specifically designed, called IPDL (Installation Process Definition Language), to represent the actions needed to complete the installation in various formats, such as texts, images, videos, or diagrams.
The AIPAD project underwent the entire process of designing and evaluating an interactive digital manual, intended to replace the currently used paper manuals. Collaborative design techniques were utilized along with the analysis of various cognitive aspects that influence human performance in manual assembly and learning new procedures.
The implementation allowed for providing feedback and corrections to users during the execution of instructions, such as pointing out common errors, explaining the causes of mistakes, and suggesting corrections. Additionally, user needs and preferences were taken into account, offering customization options, such as different versions of the manual for different levels of expertise (e.g., expert vs. non-expert). Overall, the results showed several development opportunities for the created manual, not only as a viable alternative to traditional paper manuals, as evidenced by evaluations from installers and analysis of their performance, but also as an organizational and preparatory tool for the entire installation process. This ranges from selecting the devices to install, depending on the specific context, to the actual assembly instructions related to the selected configuration.
The created interactive digital instruction manual, following a user-centered design approach, proved to be valid and effective. Moreover, continuous feedback from end-users and stakeholders revealed the genuine need for such a tool.
In conclusion, digital and interactive installation/maintenance manuals could become an additional, highly flexible resource in the toolbox of installation technicians.
Mingardi, M., Orso, V., Pluchino, P., Gamberini, L. (2022). Extending the toolbox: a digital user manual to enhance the work of automation technicians. XXX Congresso Nazionale AIP – All sections (Oral presentation)