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The "Nuremberg Wit": Innovative research project completed successfully

02-14-2011 12:25 PM CET | IT, New Media & Software

Press release from: P. Rausch, M. Diegelmann

research excavator "EPOS", Source: Prof. Fritz Schreiber

research excavator "EPOS", Source: Prof. Fritz Schreiber

Many tourists come to Nuremberg from all over the world. They visit the memorials and the museums which document one of the darkest chapter of German history, the castle and other relics of Nuremberg's medieval past, not forgetting the famous Christmas Market ("Christkindlesmarkt"). Unfortunately, one interesting fact about this region is almost unknown to most visitors – the so-called "Nuremberg Wit", referring to the practical sense, technical skills and creativity which has been associated with Nuremberg for centuries. In 2009, the city of Nuremberg dedicated an exhibition to the legendary spirit of its inventors and craftsmen. The exhibition showed examples of many local achievements, like the pocket watch, the globe, the pencil or the paper handkerchief.
A recently completed innovative research project could be seen as a continuation of this spirit. The idea was to support construction industry processes by a satellite-based software system and to strengthen the companies' standing in global competition. For many years, permanent pressure of costs, increasing expenses and ever tightening schedules for the completion of construction projects have had to be mastered. Profitable projects are based on a smooth construction sequence and up-to-date information about construction progress. Quick reaction to any developing disruptions in the process is essential to avoid a loss of profit. This was the starting point of the research project EPOS (Efficient process design by satellite-supported software in the earth moving and road construction industry). To counteract disturbances as fast as possible a real-time performance control system was established by means of GPS and construction machine on-board units. Questions of construction supervisors like "Are we working according to schedule?" can be answered quickly. For that purpose, the construction machine data is collected by satellite-supported software and transferred to a central information system via a wireless network. Additional software components allow for a detailed business analysis. For instance, different construction projects can be compared with each other. Hence, additional information for planning and project control can be generated.

To prove the functionality, extensive preparatory work was necessary: Two members of the project team (Prof. Schreiber and Prof. Diegelmann) equipped a 20 ton excavator with antennae, GPS and other sensors, cables and an on-board computer. In addition to its machine guidance function the on-board unit calculates the operation time and the excavated amount of material. This data is regularly transferred to a central production activity control system. The analysis can be accessed by a web application or any mobile device, e.g. a smart phone. Thus the construction supervisors’ planning and control activities are supported independently of their current location. Developing delays can be identified at an early stage by means of a permanent comparison of the actual and the planned performance. Action can be taken quickly to avoid a loss of profit. For that purpose a complete, real-time information flow from the construction sites to the supervisors, controllers and managers was established. The data can also be very useful for the post-calculation of projects and for calculating subsequent bids for similar construction projects.

The project team consisted of two experts on information systems (M. Stumpf and P. Rausch), a civil engineer (F. Schreiber) and a physicist (M. Diegelmann). The interdisciplinary approach or rather the cooperation of experts from different fields was crucial to the project’s success. The results were presented at international conferences and at the international trade fair for the construction machinery industry ("bauma 2010") in Munich. "The team enjoyed their work on the project and are proud of their results," Rausch says. Now Rausch and his colleagues are looking forward to continuing their project.

This example shows that, in spite of a tremendous loss of industries and jobs in the Nuremberg area, innovative ideas continue to arise. All this could lead to the creation of new jobs. Although it is not very well-known, even in Germany: "Nuremberg Wit" is still alive.

Georg Simon Ohm University of Applied Sciences Nuremberg (OHM), Germany is nationwide one of the largest universities of applied sciences. It is well-known for its practice-oriented degree programs, intensive research, partnerships worldwide, and the famous eponym.

Prof. Dr. P. Rausch
Georg Simon Ohm University Nuremberg
Computer Science Department
Keßlerplatz 12
90489 Nürnberg

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