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Development of Digital, Industrial Workbench Prototype, 07-9517

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Principal Investigators
Russell L. Volk
Doretta E. Gordon

Inclusive Dates:  10/18/04 – 02/18/05

Background - Many organizations are rapidly moving to an industrial environment that requires their workforce to work with digital files. However, the production shop infrastructure often does not support this requirement. In general, few computers exist on shop floors, requiring technicians to travel to the computer at multiple times throughout the day to conduct work process functions. 

By introducing a digital workbench into the shop infrastructure, Southwest Research Institute believes technicians can be more efficient in work processes. The digital workbench will bring the world of electronic resources to the technician in an efficient manner, creating the infrastructure for a smart shop. 

Approach - The study was conducted in three phases: 1) specification determination and design, 2) workbench development, and 3) formative evaluation. The initial phase led to the identification of acceptable input, process, output, and display devices for use in the bench. These items were then incorporated into a standard workbench focusing on such criteria as maximizing available workspace, minimizing potential hazards, and maximizing usability. The prototype was then tested in a series of user tryouts. The initial tryouts focused on basic item functionality and usability. The final tryouts focused on functionality and usability from a shop perspective. 

Accomplishments - The Digitally Enhanced Workbench for Industrial Environments (DEWIE™) has been demonstrated to a wide user community including LEAN processing teams within a military repair environment as well as military command. DEWIE was recently demonstrated at a national logistics conference to military personnel at the pentagon as well as various installations throughout the United States. The Institute is currently in discussions with a military command to provide the DEWIE infrastructure throughout the repair domain as a means of transforming the repair environment in preparation for digital technical data initiatives that are imminent within the next 5 years.

Figure 1. Researchers developed a standard workbench focusing on such criteria as maximizing workspace, minimizing potential hazards, and increasing usability.   Figure 2. Using a prototype workstation in the final tryouts, team members focused on functionality and usability from a shop perspective.

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