Over the past few years Intel has added more and more computer based automation to its factories. As the automation systems have evolved, more and more functionality has been incorporated together, using a variety of User Interfaces to access the underlying data. For example, some applications use commercial products such as Workstream, others use Intel-developed station controllers, still others use other methods.
This forces the manufacturing technician (MT) to change interface styles for each different step in the processing. None of the current UI's are coordinated, thus making the interactions between systems problematic, slow, and error-prone. This also makes training more difficult, time consuming, and costly. Add to this the various and changing interface platforms, including VMS, UNIX Curses, X Windows, and Microsoft Windows, and solutions to the UI problem get even more complex.
In our 1995 Automation Usage Study (see previous paper) we measured the cycle-time impact of Automation systems from the MT's perspective. With this as a start, we started collecting functionality into groups and prototyping screens based on those groups. User interviews were conducted where these prototypes were further refined and reviewed.
The resulting product is MTUI, the Manufacturing Technician's User Interface. Using Java, we've developed a flexible, portable framework into which "function cards" can be plugged. These function cards group and present the controls and data that are needed for processing WEP in the factory. In this paper, we present the overall architecture of MTUI and discuss the technical challenges associated with implementing the architecture. We revisit the cycle-time conclusions from the 1995 usage study and conclude with the cycle-time benefits realized by the use of MTUI.