Problem Mining machinery operators are overwhelmed by the various technological products added to their machine. Their cab is invaded by displays and the volume of situational awareness information to constantly monitor always grows. Objective Provide an integrated operation environment to mining machinery operators that will aggregate, reduce and prioritize situational awareness information. Two options Option A – Define a framework for people to develop homogeneous integrated components. Option B – Develop a display manager that allow sharing monitor(s) between existing heterogeneous applications.
Situation Today, technology suppliers develop their products over proprietary frameworks incompatible with each other. The mining industry does not propose any clear standard for communication or user interface integration. All integration efforts are isolated and typically limited to two parties, one integrating the other’s product as an extension. Guidance product suppliers have no incentive for standardizing connectivity with other components. Migrating existing systems to an open standard would require massive investments from suppliers and would not generate additional revenues for them.
Option A – Define a Standard As of today, there is no standard. So suppliers could not adhere to it, even if they wanted. Need to select or define an open communication protocol. May and should leverage an existing one (e.g. JAUS, ISO Bus, etc.). Yet, the protocol shall be versatile and powerful enough that suppliers don’t need to put a proprietary one in parallel to address needs not fully covered by the standard. Need to define an API for sharing GUI. Again, that API shall allow addressing all the graphical requirements of the current 3D animation era, so that products compliant with the standard do not end up being disadvantaged compared to ones that do not. Framework must be rich and powerful enough to host functionalities of all existing and foreseeable mining products. Defining (good) protocols is a complex, long and expensive effort. There is a significant risk that suppliers won’t find framework flexible or powerful enough for their needs. Need to put incentives in place to stimulate adherence to standard. Those incentives may include providing a basic reference implementation of most major functionalities to seed market and motivate competition.
Option B – Develop a Display Manager Suppliers have no incentives for integrating their products. One solution is to do a first iteration for them, proving that it can be done, and then call for their help to make it better once it works has been deployed in the field. This solution has a reduced scope. The primary objective addressed with this option is to reduce number of screens in the cab. And, in a second step, to manage, pre-process and prioritise alerts and events. The benefit of a fully integrated GUI is sacrificed for the sake of obtaining a functioning product much quicker and dramatically reducing the risk of abortion. Framework must be simple enough such that the investment for doing simple and isolated integration efforts remains affordable. Consists essentially in a viewer, similar to a camera management system, that allows switching between applications. The application that has focus can use the majority of the screen real estate, while others are resized along the edges. On top of this, the framework allows automation of the switching process based on alerts and events published by each applications.
Pros and Cons Option A – Define a StandardOption B – Develop a Display Manager + Integrated UI with similar look & feel and no unwanted redundancy - Combined UI with heterogeneous panes + Efficient protocol+ Simple protocol - High initial cost to embrace standard+ Low initial cost to leverage standard + Low recurrent cost to extend adherence- No significant savings when extending adherence to standard - Expensive. Requires long term investment + Cheap with short term return - Dependent on suppliers participation+ Incremental development delivering value at each step - May never materialize due to the numerous conditions for success - No upgrade path toward initial vision fully integrated solution. + Provides a standard+ Provides a product - Low probability of success- Lower gains
Option B - Example Primary Pane VNC session on one of the managed applications. Other applications are in the secondary panes on the right. SVGA native resolution (on a XGA monitor) Secondary Pane View only VNC session. Taping sends session to primary pane. Secondary Pane The thick border is used to signal events (using colors and blinking) Alert & Event List Same as defined in SA GUI document Free Space For more secondary panes or custom applications (like displaying a company logo)
Option B – Road Map Version 1 – No supplier participation needed. Operator can manually switch between applications on a single screen. Rely on existing (reduced) visual and audible indicators to signal when to switch between applications. (Timeframe: Q3-2013. Probability of materializing: Very high) Version 2 – Suppliers can publish alerts over simple CSV protocol. Display manager provides a combined lists of alerts and manages visual and audible indicators. Application publishing alerts can automatically get primary pane focus on events. (Timeframe: 2014. Probability of materializing: Fair) Version 3 – Common services (e.g. operator login, GPS positioning, sub- system state, etc.) added to framework. Suppliers can publish and subscribe to standardized information to eliminate redundant steps or components. (The popularity of the product and customer pull will drive suppliers appetite for adhering to common services. Yet, product will likely need to be at least a year in the field before any work is initiated in that direction. Speculated timeframe: 2015. Probability of materializing: Unknown)
Conclusion The two options serve different objectives. And both roads can be explored in parallel if need be. Two question remains though: “What do we really want to achieve?” and “Is it GMSG’s role to drive that?”