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Workflows in a Virtual Environment
In May 2019, the aSTAR project started at FoKoS (Research College of the University of Siegen). The focus is on the work design of the future and the transfer of skills in a virtual environment - using the example of a crane.
In addition to technical and mechanical knowledge, maintenance work on a crane (as well as on top of it) also requires skills, like being free from vertigo, and the necessary abilities. Anyone who works on a crane must be an expert in his field and know the challenges that daily work entails. As a rule, however, the crane is designed by people who rarely possess this maintenance knowledge. Therefore, there are knowledge gaps in the value chain between the services of assembly, maintenance, repair and product development of the crane - and it is often impossible to add desirable aspects of the accompanying design services in retrospect. In addition, participants who are far removed from the product have hardly any opportunities for evaluation and further product development.
This is exactly where the research project aSTAR comes in, explains Professor Dr. Dr. Björn Niehaves from the University of Siegen: "aSTAR should contribute to improving the exchange of knowledge between the upstream and downstream sectors and develop better opportunities for the mutual acquisition of experience-based competences". To this end, practical solutions based on VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) technologies will be designed, developed and implemented. While VR creates a complete virtual world and makes it possible to experiencing this world through glasses, the AR expands the real world with digital content. For example, information or videos can be inserted into a person's field of vision via smartphones or glasses - a prominent example is the "Pokémon Go" app.
In the aSTAR project, an interactive VR simulation is being developed that visualizes maintenance work and thus makes work processes and conditions tangible. The insights gained in this way promote interdisciplinary competences. The aim is to digitize the cross-departmental and cross-company exchange of knowledge between maintenance staff and employees and make it comprehensible for engineers, computer scientists and managers. aSTAR focuses on the example of the industrial crane and the associated digital knowledge flow of relevant information on maintenance personnel. "In the virtual environment, the processes and activities of a maintenance employee as well as the conditions that prevail during the maintenance of a crane should become a virtual experience for engineers, IT specialists and managers, among others," is how Andreas Weigel, project coordinator and responsible person at VETTER Krantechnik GmbH, outlines one of the project’s goals.
For this are developed along the value chain: transfer and development possibilities of (over)technical competences, concepts for learning-enhanced working environments and technology design for different groups of employees (maintenance and repair as well as management, IT, construction etc.). In addition, the project aims to transfer the knowledge gained in VR to an AR application (Augmented Reality), and to offer interactive maintenance support. In addition to the insertion of maintenance instructions, this should also include remote support. "The honorary chairman of both, the Siegen Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and of the supervisory board of VETTER Holding AG, Klaus Th. Vetter, and Marc Rieser, managing director of VETTER Krantechnik GmbH, share the same expectations of the project.
The aSTAR project is a cooperation between VETTER Krantechnik GmbH, VETTER Kranservice GmbH, Kirchner Konstruktionen GmbH, the Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung e.V. (Institute for Social Scientific Research) and VETTER Krantechnik GmbH. (ISF Munich), and the Chair of Information Systems at the University of Siegen. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and by the European Social Fund for Germany. The project executing agency is PTKA (Projektträger Karlsruhe).
Further information on the project can be found on the project homepage.