The Secret Life of Machines – Boundary Objects in Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul

  • Matthias Betz
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6030)


The increasing level of automation in tight just-in-time subcontracting relationships in the automotive industry makes the complex, weak structured, knowledge intense and highly cooperative practice of Reactive Maintenance (RM) in Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) in this branch a demanding and stressful job. In this paper two typical breakdown situations are presented which occurred in a participative observation to gain insights to this field. Based on the analysis of the observations and the existing MRO related IT infrastructure we refer to the theoretical concept of ‘boundary objects’ to understand the practice in this field. Finally, implications for design for a MRO supporting pervasive computing environment are derived from this conceptualization. We highlight the potentials of attaching relevant information to physical objects in place to support and motivate documentation by bridging the physical world of machines with the virtual information space and to enhance the discovering of relevant information in breakdowns situations.


maintenance repair overhaul collaboration boundary-objects histories practice observation UbiComp autoID physical sensor-networks 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Betz
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FITSankt AugustinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Information Systems and New MediaUniversity of SiegenSiegenGermany

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