Work Analysis Methods in Practice: The Context of Collaborative Review of CAD Models

Work Analysis Methods in Practice: The Context of Collaborative Review of CAD Models

Pedro Campos (Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal), Hildegardo Noronha (Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal) and Arminda Lopes (Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/jskd.2013040103
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Abstract

Human work interaction design is an emerging discipline that aims to encourage empirical studies and conceptualizations of the interaction among humans, their variegated social contexts and the technology they use both within and across these contexts. In this paper the authors present a virtual reality system for visualization, navigation and reviewing of 3D CAD models within the oil industry domain. This system combines a large-screen interaction environment with remote mobile devices, thus allowing engineers in the field and teams in a control center to work in collaboration. To navigate through models the system uses the mobile device’s camera and inertial sensors and takes advantage of recent natural interaction techniques on large-screen environments. The authors describe and elaborate around the usage of different work analysis methods in this complex, real world work domain. The analysis is based on (i) input from experts in the oil platform engineering field, (ii) previous and related work and (iii) application of different methods considering the recent advances in technology. The authors conclude that hierarchical task analysis was not effective in obtaining a clear, common vision about the work domain. Storyboarding was the most useful technique as it promoted the discovery of novelty factors that differentiate the solution, while simultaneously supporting the human work at offshore engineering design and review sessions.
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1. Introduction

Human work interaction design (Katre et al., 2010) is an emerging research field within HCI that is focused on the user’s experience of tasks (procedures) and the artifact environment (constraints in the work domain). That analysis and interpretation of human work is eventually manifested in the design of novel, technology-based products, systems and applications (Katre et al., 2010). In this paper, we report on a seven-month research study around the requirements elicitation, scenario design and storyboarding processes for creating a new Virtual Reality (VR) distributed application to support a complex work domain: the collaborative review of large scale 3D engineering models, in the context of the oil and gas industry at a very large organization (Santos et al., 2011).

The current approach to the design of industrial plants relies strongly on communication among experts in several areas of the field, and also on tools that allow the specification and simulation of the site. VR resources are used to visualize and interact with complex 3D environments in real time. Several engineering simulations employ VR to foresee the results of complex industrial operations.

In this paper, we present a thorough analysis of the user tasks at stake during the execution of collaborative sessions of 3D CAD models design and review in the specific context of the oil and gas industry. By studying the users’ work and needs, the related existing work and the possibilities that recent advances in multimodal technologies, we expect to shed new light into how an integrated environment should be conceived and designed in order to positively influence the collaboration levels between dispersed teams of engineers that need to review oil platform problems and to design solutions for those problems.

Our main contribution to the Human Work Interaction Design (HWID) field is the comparison of the effectiveness of different work analysis and design methods towards establishing a common vision regarding a new product for the oil and gas industry engineering models’ review, in a collaborative manner. By effectiveness, we mean:

  • The team applying the method uses time to their advantage;

  • The team is able to generate a reasonable number of prototypes that match the work needs;

  • The team is able to produce consistent, sound designs.

These three dimensions (effective use of time, generation of prototypes and consistent design) were used as our baseline for comparing the effectiveness of the different work analysis methods. This is especially important for gaining new insight about the relative advantages between the different methods in a highly complex, real world work domain. Other authors have faced the effectiveness of work analysis techniques in similar ways (Naikar & Paterson, 1999).

Therefore, these three dimensions for effectiveness were the ones that the team felt more useful for the particular work domain at stake.

Human Work Interaction Design (HWID) is an emerging approach that promotes a better understanding of the relationship between work-domain based empirical studies and the iterative design of prototypes and new technologies (Katre et al., 2010). HWID’s goal is to encourage empirical studies and conceptualizations of the interaction among humans, their variegated social contexts and the technology they use both within and across these contexts.

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