Betz, M. (2010) The Secret Life of Machines -Boundary Objects in Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, Pervasive Computing 2010, Lecture notes in Computer Science, vol 6030, pp. 174-191

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I found this paper to be interesting since it tackles the same challenges that we have studied: boundary objects in maintenance. The data for this paper was collected with observations, which is the same method we have used. Our work is focused on dispersed maintenance whereas this paper covers local maintenance. Maintenance is highly non-routine work: technical problems change, and the people working on the machines change. Paper lists three criteria that are relevant in maintenance: 1) precise and timely information on the machines to be maintained, 2) real-time transfer of information on critical incidents, and 3) fast access to the knowledge and means necessary to fix problems. Two types of boundary objects are used in the cases described in the paper: the broken machine and construction documentation of the machine. The engineers gather around the broken machine and try to reconstruct the complete repair history to figure out if there has been similar cases and who have been involved. The history of the machine is important for the isolation of the source of error. These histories are often documented in personal diaries, and are not accessible. For them to work as boundary objects, they should be “published”. The engineers to solve the problem are gathered by either the techinician asking someone he knows or trying to find out who knows about the machine and then contacting him. The engineers discussed the machine same time pointing and touching the machine, which worked as a boundary object. The constructions plans of the machines are also used and annotated during discussion. They work as boundary objects to support the communication and collaboration of between different professions. However, the engineers find the documents inconvenient medium, since they are hard to find and browse. As future work it is suggested in the paper that objects could be enriched with embedded ubiquitous information technology. First, relevant information moves in places where the need of information occurs – embedded into the existing practices. Second, the same information should be accessible independent from the location.

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