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Interactive visualization applications for the training of maintenance technicians

: Hintze, A.; Stüring, S.

Belgian Society of Mechanical and Environmental Engineering; Institution of Electrical Engineers -IEE-, London; American Society of Mechanical Engineers -ASME-; Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers -JSME-:
CLAWAR '98. First International Symposium on Mobile, Climbing and Walking Robots. Annual Conference of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, European Chapter on Virtual Reality in Mechanical and Production Engineering VR-MECH '98
Brüssel, 1998
International Symposium on Mobile, Climbing and Walking Robots (CLAWAR) <1, 1998, Brüssel>
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, European Chapter on Virtual Reality in Mechanical and Production Engineering (Annual Conference) (VR-MECH) <1998, Brüssel>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer IFF ()
maintenance; simulation; synthetic environment; training; virtual reality

Global competition and high complexity of products lead to strong demands for abilities and knowledge of service suppliers. Traditional training methods using slide-shows and paper documentation for theoretical education and teaching practice by using the real equipment have a lot of disadvantages. Compared to the teaching of theory, new information technology brought only minor benefits to practice training, but increased globalization and international engagement of manufacturing companies as well as higher variety of products by shorter lifecycles has important impacts on practice training. Problems of practice training using real equipments are: (I.) Engineering knowledge for training of practical skills is only locally available, trainers need to be sent to customers site or vice versa; (II.) different cultures and mentalities make training more difficult; (III.) real equipment for training purposes is only locally available; (IV.) the final user often possesses a customized setup or even an unique custom-made product; (V.) blocking productive equipment for training purposes is very expensive. Also training on real equipment could be dangerous for trainees or the equipment itself. The technique of virtual reality provides new media with new possibilities for the practical training methodology. Through realistic visualization, immersion and interactivity with geometric objects, realistic simulation of the kinematic behaviour of objects and 3D-sounds it is possible to create scenarios, using existing 3D-data. In case of complex technical systems these scenarios can be designed for practical training purposes, to allow maintenance technicians to learn substantial amounts of practical skills by interacting with a virtual system. The Fraunhofer IFF is working on interactive visualization since 1996, using different available vr-systems and developping specific applications. In 1998 we started a project funded by the European Union in the Esprit IV-Programme. The wor k will be undertaken by a consortium of French and German industrial end-users (from aerospace-, military and printing machine industry) and research partners from Spain and Greece dealing with pedagogic aspects and networking/CSCW aspects. Main objective will be the training of service technicians for maintenance of complex technical systems using virtual reality. Important features of the strived for solution besides the interactive visualization are the ability to perform multi-user and multi-site training as well as different training modes. Our contribution to the conference will shows the results, the mentioned project is based on and also some examples to explain the concept of the consortium for further steps towards a multi-site and multi-user vr-based training environment for maintenance technicans.