Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
First Story: Automated
Warehouse Training
for the scenes, it was robust, well documented
and free to use. Yet, it was required to write a
complete wrapper using the .NET Framework
interoperability services (Microsoft Corporation,
2010) to use it from C#. The wrapper was also
coded in C#.
The instrumentation engine is an original
concept (Vigário, Magalhães & Freitas, 2006).
It emulates sensors and actuators and manages
the communication between the software and the
external hardware. It is composed of two distinct
layers: the sensing layer and the communication
layer. The sensing layer includes generic models of
sensors and actuators which are used to mimic the
real world equipments typically found on industrial
environments. The communication layer manages
the real-time data exchange between virtual sen-
sors and actuators, and the external hardware: the
I/O DAQ board. Yet, the communication layer was
carefully designed to support future communica-
tion protocols and interoperability.
A major requirement in modern manufacturing and
service industries is materials and parts handling,
moving, storage and retrieval. Hence, most of them
include automated storage/retrieval systems, also
known as automated warehouses.
Automated warehouses are “pearls” of modern
technology, merging many important engineering
subjects and concepts. From the point of view of
modern automation, the major concepts are control
engineering and inventory management. Thus, to
a greater or less extent, “automated warehouses”
are part of every industrial or manufacturing
engineering course curricula. Yet, an automated
warehouse is the perfect case of a system too
big and too expensive to have in a school lab.
Furthermore, it is too risky (if even possible) for
control students to go inside an automated ware-
house trying to “debug” their PLC programs when
these go wrong. Also not practical is to manually
insert or remove items in an industrial automated
warehouse to preset an inventory of interest before
trying a particular management strategy - for
instance, a given storage and retrieval policy.
To get around these problems, a group of
teachers from a Portuguese school of engineering
decided, a few years ago, to suggest their automa-
tion engineering students to design and construct
a reduced scale physical model of an automated
warehouse as their final year project. In addition
to provide a valuable experience to the involved
students, the idea was to get an important resource
in which future students could visualize and try
both logic control strategies and inventory policies.
The project took several years, engaging thus
successive groups of students, and has resulted in
the system represented in Figure 6. The warehouse
is controlled by a modular, medium size, PLC and
includes a HMI (Human Machine Interface). The
PLC also interfaces with a SCADA (Supervisory
Control and Data Acquisition System), from where
operational parameters can be defined. Size, cost
As previously mentioned, state of the art computer
technology and great digital art do not suffice to
create an effective serious game. Trainers, and
specially trainees, who are the main and final
judges of a serious game, also include a set of
personal and hard to define values in their ap-
preciation. The goal of this section is precisely
to share some judgments about ITS PLC coming
from different trainers and trainees who have been
using it in relevant and particularly interesting
training scenarios. For this, three very dissimilar
success stories were selected. They are dissimilar
in two senses: because they involve very different
groups of trainees - senior engineering students,
young children discovering automation, and first
year automation program students - and because
they took place in two countries - Portugal and
France. The Portuguese story is presented first.
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