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scheduling can be easily tested and trained. To
make this sort of training easier, the logic control
of the emulated warehouse, not relevant in inven-
tory training, is fairly simple, as the virtual system
includes an embedded controller that continu-
ously (and magically!) performs the complex and
low level task of positioning the stacker at a ref-
erence provided by the user. Yet, for some train-
ers, this feature makes the logic control of the ITS
PLC warehouse too simple and unrealistic,
rather preferring the physical system for PLC
programming training. This option clearly reflects
the classic conclusion that real and synthetic
target systems are not rival, but rather comple-
mentary training solutions (Marangé, Riera, Gel-
lot, Nocent, Magalhães & Vigario, 2009). At least,
for the moment.
Table 1 resumes the pro and cons of the three
training environments considered in this case
study, underlying the stated conclusion.
Ardenne University (URCA) laboratories to know
and try automatic systems.
However, these parties are hard to organize,
since they disturb a lot the normal activities of
the University, require much planning and have
considerable costs. In the case of automation par-
ties, risk to trainees and to equipment is an ad-
ditional and major concern (Marangé, Gellot &
Riera, 2007) and (Marangé, Gellot & Riera, 2009),
especially when most of the training is made with
real, while reduced scale, physical systems, as it
was initially the case.
Whist training with real systems does provide
to the trainee a perfect understating of automation
problems and solutions, simulation with realistic
and interactive virtual systems also offers its own
advantages. Namely, it allows portable, low cost,
and safe systems from which it is possible to in-
troduce PLC and automation systems to novice
trainees; in particular, to the basic-school kids
who participate in automation parties and to the
first grade students of the University, who are
the heroes of this and of the next “success story”,
respectively.
Kids' activities in present automation parties
are similar to those they performed in the past with
physical systems, and have in mind to let them
discover three important concepts: the role of the
logic control, how a PLC works, and why PLCs
Second Story: Discovering
Automation
In order to develop scientific and technical culture
in Champagne-Ardenne district, several original
and innovating activities have been proposed to
enable young people to discover the magic world
of automation - Figure 9. Since 2004, more than
400 children have come to the Reims Champagne-
Table 1. Comparison between training models
Physical System
Academic Simulation
ITS PLC Simulation
Visual Impact
Very Good
Good
Very Good
Diversity of training scenarios
Very wide
Limited
Wide
Required logic control
Complete
Simplified
Very simplified
Suitability for logic control training Very Good
Good
Fair
Suitability for Supervisory training Good
Fair
Very Good
Suitability for operating policies
training
Fair
Poor
Very Good
Suitability for demonstration pur-
poses
High
Fair
Very High
Global educational value
Very High
Fair
High
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